by Dr. Todd Decker
Have you ever been sitting with a friend who is telling you about their new hearing aids and how great they sound? They proceed to pull one out of their ear and tell you to give it a try? It is a story we hear quite often. A family member purchased new hearing aids and decided to gift you their old ones. Or a dear friend has passed away and the family has offered their hearing aids to you. This is a question Audiologists get frequently and while in certain circumstances it is possible, it is important to remember a few key points.
Hearing aids are still considered a medical device in which their sale and fitting history is regulated by the FDA. Their purchase, warranty and registration are all recorded. If those devices are given to someone else, all of that information will be lost and most warranties become void.
Hearing loss is not a “one size fits all” issue. Hearing aids are specifically fit to each person in multiple ways. The first is the physical fit of the aid itself. Many hearing aid styles are or include a custom product in which an actual mold of your ear is taken and they are created especially for your ear shape. In addition to the physical fit, your hearing loss prescription is unique only to you as well. Audiologists are trained to select and program hearing aids exactly to your specific prescription. This is based on your hearing test as well as other needs they assess in the appointment. There is potential of actually damaging your hearing if you attempt to wear a hearing aid with too much volume in your specific range of amplification.
If it is determined that you can physically wear the hearing aid, you will need to find a licensed professional provider near you to assist with fitting and servicing them. We advise that you have a full Comprehensive Hearing Evaluation and communication needs assessment. Once that is completed, your provider will be able to assess whether or not those devices will work for your individual needs and inform you of the process and fees associated. If the hearing devices cannot be used by you, please check if the provider has a donation program. There is usually a local charity who will accept hearing aids as a donation.