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American Family Children's Hospital
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Hearing Aids

Contact Information
 
(608) 263-6190
(608) 287-2650
If you suspect you have hearing loss, consult a physician first to rule out any medically correctable cause. A physician can tell whether your hearing loss might be corrected by something as simple as removing wax or whether your hearing impairment is a sign of something more serious.
 
Your family physician may refer you to an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat specialist) for specific tests and treatment.
 
If your physician determines a hearing aid is needed, s/he will most likely refer you to an audiologist (a non-physician specialist with a graduate or doctorate degree in the measurement and treatment of hearing impairment) for further testing.
 
When testing is complete, the audiologist will be able to recommend and sell you a hearing aid, if appropriate. The audiologist's title should include the letters CCC-A, which stand for Certificate of Clinical Competence-Audiology, to indicate certification from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.
 
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that a licensed physician evaluate your hearing within six months before you buy a hearing aid, unless you sign a waiver. A hearing aid dealer is legally required to tell you that it would not be in your best interest to forego the medical evaluation.
 
Hearing Aid Cost
 
Fitting a hearing aid is more complex than fitting a pair of eyeglasses. It requires careful testing to determine the precise nature of an individual's hearing loss, and to select and program a device that will offer the greatest help. Even under the best of circumstances, a hearing aid requires a significant investment (usually over $1,000 per aid).

Hearing Aid Selection and Types

Mandatory Trial Period

 

According to Wisconsin state law, you will be allowed a minimum of 30 days to try your new hearing aids. During the trial period, you should wear the hearing aids in as many different listening situations as possible. You should also wear the hearing aids as much as possible, so you can make a decision as to whether the hearing aids are helpful.

 

If you find that you are not satisfied with your hearing aids, your audiologist may be able to make adjustments to them. S/he may also suggest a trial period with a different hearing aid. If at the end of your trial period you are still not satisfied with the hearing aids, by Wisconsin state law you may return the hearing aids for a refund, less a fee for professional services provided during the trial period. In addition, custom-made earmolds, which are used with behind-the-ear hearing aids, are generally non-refundable.

 

Hearing Instrument Specialists

In addition to an audiologist, you may also see a hearing instrument specialist for hearing aid services. These dealers have less formal education than audiologists and generally use more limited diagnostic equipment. Nonetheless, they have a great deal of practical experience in fitting hearing aids.

If you do go to a dealer, make sure s/he is licensed or registered (unless you live in Colorado, Massachusetts, or Minnesota, where this is not required) and check to see that the dealer is certified by the National Board for Certification of Hearing Instrument Sciences (indicated by the letters BC-HIS). If possible, ask your physician to recommend a dealer.

 

Verifying Qualifications

 

Whether you go to an audiologist or a hearing aid dealer, you need someone who will work with you over several visits to find the right hearing aid, teach you to use and maintain it, and then be available to service it for months and years to come. If you have any doubts about their qualifications, check your local Better Business Bureau, your state attorney general, or the licensing board in your state capitol for a record of any past consumer complaints.