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What To Ask Before Buying a Hearing Aid?

How Many Different Brands and Types of Hearing Aids? There are several different brands and types of hearing aids to choose from. No single type of aid amplifies sound adequately for every hearing loss. Hearing aids differ in their type of sound processing; their available features, and in style. The most common styles include: behind-the-ear (BTE), in-the-ear (ITE), in-the-canal (ITC) and completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing aids. Each style allows for different amounts of amplification and adjustability according to its size. For example, because an ITC hearing aid is very small, it is less adjustable and provides only enough amplification for milder hearing losses. BTE normally is the best in performance and lowest in cost, but it might not be desirable for someone since it is more visible.

Wht Do You Charge for Various Types of Hearing Aids? What is Included in the Cost of The Hearing Aid? In general the cost of a hearing aid depends on the sophistication and capability of the hearing aid circuitry, and its size-the smaller the hearing aid, the more it costs. The most expensive aids are digital and can cost over $15,000 for one aid. More BTE hearing aids cost from $900 to $1500 each. Usually, the biggest portion of  the cost is the selecting and fitting of a hearing aid. The cost of this testing may not be refundable if hearing aids are returned.

Do You Offer a Trial Period During Which the Hearing Aid is Returnable if the Patient is Not Satisfied? If So, How Long is the Trial Period? How Much of the Cost of the Hearing Aid is Not Refunded if it is Returned? Normally there is a trial period during which the hearing aid is returnable. The trial period is usually 7-30 days long. If the hearing aid is returned, many hearing aid sellers will charge a nonrefundable "restocking fee." This nonrefundable fee could be as little as $49 or as much as $300, depending on the seller. We do charge 19% restocking fee.

What Kind of Warranty Comes With the Hearing Aid(s)? Warranties vary by hearing aid manufacturer. Some companies give one year free warraty, on parts and labor. Extended warranties are also available for an additional charge.

After the Warranty Ends, What is Minimum Charge for a Repair? After the manufacturer's warranty has expired, repair charges are the responsibility of the hearing aid owner. For most hearing aid repairs there is a standard charge that covers repair on the circuitry or electrical components. A warranty should be offered on any repairs that are made.

You Service the Hearing Aids You Sell? What In-House Repairs Do You Offer? We do ot repair hearing aids in-house, but contract with Siemens or the original manufactures for their genuine services. The manufacturers normally charges $49 to $129 for most of the problems, plus $14 shipping.

What are the hearing Aid Terms?  Although hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, they all have the same basic components. Sound is picked up from the environment by a microphone. The electronic signal from the microphone is then processed and amplified by the hearing aid. The hearing aid volume is adjusted with a volume control. Once the sound has been amplified, it goes to a receiver. The receiver works like a speaker changing electronic signals back into acoustic sound. The sound is then delivered to the ear canal through a tube in the earmold or hearing aid shell. Most hearing aids also include on-off switches. Some may also have one to three screw-set controls, telephone pick-up switch, and/or direct audio input. It commonly use the terms to specify a hearing aid:

Saturation Sound Pressure Level [SSPL] The SSPL [also called SSPL 90] is a measure of the maximum output of a hearing aid, the level beyond which the hearing aid cannot amplify. It is important that the maximum output of the hearing aid does not exceed the Uncomfortable Loudness Level [UCL] of the hearing aid wearer. UCL is measured in Hearing Level [HL] and hearing aids are measured in Sound Pressure Level [SPL]. In order to convert from HL to SPL the conversion is +20 dB [for speech only]. For example, a patient with a UCL of 90 dB HL for speech would be uncomfortable with a hearing aid with an SSPL 90 greater than 110 dB SPL.

Full-on Gain The term "gain" refers to the difference between the input signal and the output of the hearing aid. Gain is the amount of amplification provided by the hearing aid --- how much power it adds to the environmental signal. "Full-on" refers to the volume control setting. The full-on gain is the maximum amount of gain that the hearing aid can generate.

Frequency Response It is assumed that the hearing aid wearer does not use the hearing aid with the volume set to full-on. The reference test gain [RTG] is a method of approximating the actual use gain of the hearing aid.

Hearing aids can vary in frequency from broad band, to high frequency emphasis, to low frequency emphasis. In order to give an idea of what the frequency range of a hearing aid is, the High Frequency Average HFA of the frequency response curve [obtained at RTG setting] is determined [the HFA is the average output of 1000 Hz, 1600 Hz, and 2500 Hz].

Total Harmonic Distortion   The total harmonic distortion, or THD, of a signal is a measurement of the harmonic distortion present and is defined as the ratio of the sum of the powers of all harmonic components to the power of the fundamental frequency. Lesser THD allows the components in a loudspeaker, amplifier or microphone or other equipment to produce a more accurate reproduction by reducing harmonics added by electronics and audio media. A THD rating < 1% is considered to be in high-fidelity and inaudible to the human ear.

Equivalent Input Noise   The Equivalent Input Noise is the amount of noise which is present in the hearing aid without any input present. The electronic current passing through the amplification system of the hearing aid will cause a low level of noise. Higher gain instruments tend to have more input noise. This is not usually a problem because the wearer of such a high gain hearing instrument will not hear the noise. Ambient noise present in any room is usually enough to cover any noise generated by the hearing aid circuit. Typically the equivalent input noise is less than 3--35 dB SPL.

Battery Current  The battery current of different hearing aids can vary widely. It is important to have an estimate of battery current so that the hearing aid battery life can be predicted. Battery current is tested with the volume control in reference test gain position and with an input of 1000 Hz tone at 65 dB SPL. Often the hearing aid test equipment will have a "battery pill" which draws current from the hearing aid. Battery current values can range from 0.2 mA [ milliAmps ] to 5.0 mA and can be as high as 15-20 mA for body style hearing aids.

Other Hearing Aid Parameters  All hearing aids are tested with the above requirements. In addition to these, any hearing aid with a telephone telecoil can have telecoil frequency response measured. Also, automatic gain control [AGC] hearing aids require testing of the input-output characteristics and attack/release times.
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