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Hearing aid tidbits and random topics

This month marks my seventh year of writing a monthly hearing health educational articles for The Express. I am always thinking of possible topics to help readers understand their hearing issues and the hearing aid industry. This month I am doing a “tidbits” article about ideas that might not need a full article. Here we go and in no order of importance.

Know the brand of hearing aids that you wear. If you travel on a vacation and have problems with your hearing aids, you can do a brand search and find a dealer near you. Most dealers are willing to help call or walk in patients. Some dealers will attempt to help any brand, but it makes it much easier if we know the brand you are bringing to us. For instance, I might not have the software to interact with a brand and could tell the caller. If you go see a professional for help and you didn’t buy the hearing aids from them, it would be appropriate to ask about their fees for service. Each dispenser is different. Most don’t charge to help someone, but some might.

On a different idea, wax guards are tiny caps that go over the end of where the sound comes out of the hearing aids. Most of the time when an aid seems to stop working it is because the wax guard is plugged with wax. A patient should know what they are and how to change them. If not sure contact the professional that served you. If that is no longer possible call a hearing aid clinic seeking help as I described above.

Pennsylvania law says the purchaser of hearing aids has a 30-day trial period. That is the minimum the state requires. If you have sickness issues or other extenuating circumstances and you feel you need beyond the thirty days, ask. I can give a longer trial if I choose to. Normally the process fits in the thirty days, but some dealers will accommodate an extension if reasonable. New York state has a 45-day trial and the big warehouse stores, Costco and Sam’s Club give a 90 day trail. It is not an issue for me. I know that a patient decides in the first day or two if they feel the hearing aids help them hear better and if they are ready to buy the aids. The Pennsylvania law that says the consumer has 30 days also says the dispenser can keep 10 percent of the money. I did that when I worked for others, but now promise a 100% refund if the patient desire to back away from a purchase. Some dispensers offer free trials, usually a week, without any money changing hands. Others point out the 100% refund removes any risk in the transaction.

Another pointer in the search for hearing aids is to study your market place and options. Call and pointedly ask for prices. Dealers and their staff who avoid answering those questions are usually on the very high end of the price scale. Never schedule an appointment with someone who says “I can’t give you prices until I know the extent of your hearing loss.” Dealers should be able to give a specific range of price for good, better, and best technology.

Lastly, most people would never think of used hearing aids. These aids can never be the custom made type that have been individually molded to another person’s ear. They are always the behind the ear hearing aids with new tips that have never been in someone else’s ear. The down side of used hearing aids is they are usually older technology and come with a six month to one year warranty while new aids are the latest technology and generally have a three year warranty. Used aids could save a patient money on the front end, but they may not always be available to the dealer and the history of the hearing aid’s care and performance is not known.

If you or someone you love suffers from poor hearing. Call a hearing professional.

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Jeffrey L. Bayliff is owner of Hear the Birds Hearing Aid Center, Lock Haven, PA

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