This past week I had a consultation with a new patient and during the appointment she told me that she has her husband’s old hearing aids and wanted to know if she could use them. To me this is a pretty reasonable question, but I think there are a lot of people out there who may be afraid to ask the question. Let’s take a look at this situation a little more closely.
Today it’s easier than ever to wear someone else’s hearing aids. Many styles of hearing aids (such as Behind-The-Ear, Open Ear, Receiver-In-The-Canal) are separate from the custom mold that sits inside of the ear canal. Since these types of hearing aids are the most common ones being sold, it is entirely possible to wear someone else’s hearing aids. In fact, it is almost as easy as putting on someone else’s glasses. However, just like wearing someone else’s glasses, it does not mean that the prescription is correct for you and you can’t be upset if the glasses are not entirely clear. Knowing this, I’m sure you will agree that you can’t expect to put someone else’s hearing aids on and to have them sound crystal clear.
On the other hand, custom fit hearing aids (such as In-The-Ear, In-The-Canal and Completely-In-the-Canal) cannot be worn by another person. Just imagine trying to put someone else’s dentures in your mouth. They won’t fit! I can admit that I’ve seen a number of people who have tried to wear someone else’s custom hearing aid and they look uncomfortable and like they’re about to fall out. But each person guarantees me that this isn’t the case.
We are fortunate that we live in a day of digital technology where the vast majority of hearing aids contain digital processors. This means we can change the settings on a hearing aid just by hooking it up to one of ourcomputers. But be aware that not all hearing aids are appropriate for every type of hearing loss. Earlier this year I had a patient who wanted to wear hearing aids that he purchased on eBay. I tested his hearing and he had a mild-to moderate loss. However the hearing aids he purchased off of eBay were for someone with a severe hearing loss. If I had put those hearing aids on the patient, they would have been so loud that I could have further damaged his hearing.
One of the reasons (if not the main reason) people want to use someone else’s hearing aids is to save some money. You must be aware that if you do chose to use your friend’s hearing aids and they are appropriate for your hearing loss, you will still most likely incur some additional costs. Be prepared to pay a fee for the hearing evaluation and a fee for fitting and programming the hearing aids. You may also incur charges for office visits, follow-up visits and ear molds if necessary.
For anyone who is wondering if “I can wear someone else’s hearing aid”, my advice to you is to be up front and honest with your hearing care provider. Tell them at the beginning of the appointment that this is what you’re interested in doing as that will point us in the right direction and it may avoid some unnecessary testing. The small and short of it is – Can you wear someone else’s hearing aid? It’s not always yes, but not always a no.