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A guide to choosing a hearing aid

Various hearing aid styles

The right hearing solution for you

“Only 1 in 5 people who need a hearing aid actually wear one.”

— Hearing Loss Association of America

Hearing more can mean living with increased confidence because you’ve taken such an important step to your wellness and self-care. It can mean being more relaxed at work because you know you’re not missing important pieces of conversation. And it can mean feeling more secure in your important relationships because communication is easier.

When you have the right hearing aid, you have the ability to hear things you’ve been missing. Children talking. The dialogue in your favorite show. Conversation in a noisy restaurant.

Taking the next step in finding the right hearing solution for you can have a significant impact on your quality of life.

Don’t let the perceived complexity of acquiring a hearing aid stand in the way of buying one. Whether you’re just beginning to identify the problem, know you need a hearing aid (but need insight into how to take the next steps), or have a hearing aid that’s not a good match for your personal needs, the process begins with you.

We’ll help you understand your options so you can make the choice that works best for you.

Older woman wearing Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids

How do hearing aids work?

THE BASICS

Tiny microphones in the hearing aids collect environmental sounds, make them louder, and then deliver the amplified sound to the ear.

THE NOT-SO-BASICS

Hearing aids make hearing easier and more comfortable by treating softer and louder sounds differently. Softer sounds are harder to hear, especially in noisy environments. Hearing aids amplify softer sounds to a greater degree than louder sounds using a process called wide dynamic range compression. The result is that softer sounds become more audible so you can hear them better.

Hearing aids vs. personal sound amplifiers

Hearing aids and personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) can both improve your ability to hear sound, but the products have different intended uses. The FDA defines a hearing aid as “a wearable sound-amplifying device (1) that is intended to compensate for impaired hearing” which gives you the ability to hear more types of sounds and improve speech intelligibility. They can help with common situations indicative of hearing loss like listening in noisy places, difficulty understanding conversations in crowded rooms, hearing speech more clearly so it doesn’t sound like people are mumbling, or difficulty hearing the doorbell ring.

A PSAP is a wearable electronic product (2) that is not intended to compensate for impaired hearing, but rather is intended for non-hearing impaired consumers to amplify sounds in certain environments. Examples of where PSAPs are typically used are recreational activities, listening to lectures with a distant speaker, or listening to soft sounds that would be difficult for normal hearing individuals to hear (e.g., distant conversations).

FDA review and requirements are another difference between hearing aids and other sound amplification devices like PSAPs which aren’t regulated by the FDA.

What about FDA vs non-FDA?

Hearing aids are considered medical devices. Medical devices are regulated by the FDA and some hearing aids may require FDA clearance before they are available to consumers. FDA clearance means that the FDA has reviewed design and use-related information and has concluded that the product meets safety and effectiveness requirements necessary to be brought into market.

Before you begin your search for a hearing solution, make sure you understand your hearing needs.

Sample result of the Bose online hearing screener

START HERE

To find out your level of hearing loss, you can contact your doctor to set up a hearing test. You can also take advantage of online hearing screeners. While online screeners are not diagnostic tests, they can help you understand more about your hearing. In about 5 minutes, online screeners can help you understand whether your hearing loss may be mild-to-moderate, moderate-to-severe, or severe.

What should I consider?

As you work to identify the right hearing solution for you, you’ll want to understand how the elements of fit and function can significantly improve your quality of life.

Consider hearing aid sound performance, comfort, battery life, discreetness, and price ranges as some of the key attributes to finding the right fit and hearing solution for you.

  • Sound performance: Where and when is it most difficult for you to hear?
  • Comfort: Will you be wearing your hearing aid all day?
  • Battery life: How often will your hearing aid battery need to be replaced or recharged?
  • Discreetness: Is it important that your hearing solution be almost invisible to those around you?
  • Comfort-level with technology: How comfortable are you using technology? Apps?
  • Hearing Health Professional Assistance: Do you need to have a hearing health professional involved in the process based on your hearing needs? Or are you interested in a solution that you can purchase, fit, and tune yourself?
  • Price range: How will the total cost of purchasing hearing aids impact your finances? Costs can include product costs, Hearing Health Professional appointments, accessories, and other services. 

Types of hearing aids

The two basic types of air conduction hearing aids are in the ear (ITE) and behind the ear (BTE).

ITE and BTE hearing aids come in a variety of styles and advantages. ITE are available either invisible in the canal, completely in the canal, or low profile, while BTE hearing aids can be purchased with receiver in the canal or receiver behind the ear with earmold. Both ITE and BTE hearing aids are suitable for addressing a range of hearing loss indications. There are a number of hearing aid brand choices in these two types of hearing aids — each featuring a range of colors, features, and prices — so you can find one that fits your needs.

It’s complicated

Traditionally, Hearing Aids have only been available through a Hearing Health Professional — and that's because they require a prescription.

The path to purchase can include a conversation with your Primary Care Physician (PCP), then a referral to a Hearing Health Professional and the completion of a hearing test. Getting fitted and fine tuning them to your liking can require multiple visits to the Hearing Health Professional (or back-and-forth with the manufacturer).

Grandmother wearing Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids spending time with her granddaughter

Putting you in control

Direct-to-consumer hearing aids are changing the way people take care of their hearing. Sold both online and in store, direct-to-consumer hearing aids put you in control with a hearing solution because they’re more accessible, more convenient to purchase, and more affordable.

If you need technical help (or have questions about how to set up and use your hearing aids), video chats, online apps, and access to hearing and/or product experts give you the support you need when it’s convenient for you.

Leading the way

Bose has taken direct-to-consumer hearing aids to the next level with self-fitting hearing aids that don’t require a hearing test or a visit to an audiologist. In 2021, Bose received FDA clearance for the first self-fit direct-to-consumer hearing aid that enable adults with mild to moderate hearing loss to fit, tune, and control the device on their own — without assistance from a Hearing Health Professional.

A woman wearing Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids while at lunch with friends

Because Bose SoundControl™ Hearing Aids work with the Bose Hear App, you can change the sound levels to match your hearing preferences. This new approach is possible because of proprietary Bose CustomTune™ technology that has been clinically-proven to provide audiologist-quality customization.

Technical help is available to help you get set-up, learn how to use the product, and troubleshoot if needed. Bose SoundControl™ Hearing Aids are available at a cost of up to 80% less than many prescription hearing aids and can be purchased online at Bose.com.

Reflect on your hearing challenges

No one knows your needs better than you. Whether you are starting your search for a hearing solution for the first time — or looking to replace your current hearing aid with one that’s a better fit for your lifestyle, start by identifying your top priorities.

If you’re an adult with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss who is looking for a device without visiting a Hearing Health Professional, then direct-to-consumer hearing aids could be a great choice. And if you’re ready to take the next step in getting a hearing aid that’s right for you, take a device for a test drive by opting for a solution that comes with a risk-free trial.

Hear better with our FDA-cleared, direct-to-consumer hearing aids.

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