Listen to the experts to choose the hearing device right for you

For those living with hearing loss, the ever-changing world of hearing aids and personal amplifiers can be confusing and overwhelming. Washington University adult audiologists are specialists in helping you choose the hearing device that is right for you. With today’s technology, there is no reason to be left out of the conversation.

Washington University director of adult audiology, Michael Valente, PhD, says “Whether your complaint is tinnitus (ear or head noises), misunderstood conversations or difficulty hearing in noisy environments or high-pitched speech, we can identify the type and degree of hearing loss and match a cost-effective hearing aid to your specific needs. Seeing a licensed audiologist is the first step in finding the right device for you. ”

What are my options for hearing devices?

Hearing aids are a regulated medical device that must be prescribed by a licensed hearing professional. Washington University offers the full array of hearing aids, along with testing, real-ear measures, and custom fitting (customized specifically to each person’s type and degree of loss). Sophisticated hearing aids can be expensive, and Washington University recommendations come without any bias for a manufacturer or device type – Washington University audiologists don’t get commissions on sales. With this bundled package, patients get service and warranty at no extra cost for the life of the device.

Basic, or entry-level hearing aids are offered by Washington University, but at a lower cost. Basic hearing aids offer less sophisticated options than some of the more advanced alternatives. Even with fewer options, Washington University audiologists can make basic hearing aids accommodate most patients’ hearing loss, but there will be a charge for each fitting and service visit.

Personal sound amplification products (PSAPS) are marketed for hearing enhancement and are not intended to be used for hearing loss.  Washington University does not offer these devices. They can be purchased online or over-the-counter without a hearing evaluation or doctor’s prescription. The inexpensive ones may even have the potential to cause damage by over-amplifying sharp noises, such as a police siren.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) hearing devices are a new category created by the FDA, and will be available in the year 2020. This new class of self-programmable devices will be marketed for individuals with mild hearing loss. They will be available at retailers without a prescription. While this may improve access to hearing devices for some people, because they can be purchased without the assistance of a licensed audiologist, they also carry the risk of being used improperly. 

Washington University audiologist Diane Duddy, AuD, says, “Audiologists are doctoral-level professionals who have the expertise to correctly diagnose the type and degree of hearing loss and a person’s candidacy for hearing aids. Our patient’s needs are our top priority, and all hearing device choices are addressed to achieve maximum patient satisfaction.

Beware of misleading claims and devices that make promises too good to be true – because they probably are. Your licensed audiologist is the best source for your needs and expectations.”

Washington University audiologists see patients at several convenient locations. Call 800-437-5430 or visit the Audiology page to find the location best for you.