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Can I Wear Someone Else’s Hearing Aids?

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.

About Adam Bernstein

Adam Bernstein is the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Milwaukee's premier hearing healthcare facility. As the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Mr. Bernstein has close to 20 years of experience in the hearing healthcare industry. He began his career in 1995 at GN Danavox, one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world. After leaving Danavox, Mr. Bernstein opened two hearing healthcare offices in Chicago, IL. In 2001 he moved to Milwaukee, WI and opened The Hearing Professionals. In 2008 he added a second Wisconsin office in the town of Brookfield. Today The Hearing Professionals is the largest private audiology practice in SE Wisconsin. Mr. Bernstein has written numerous articles on hearing healthcare which has appeared in newspapers throughout the country and has been interviewed by news programs regarding advances in the hearing industry. Mr. Bernstein a member of Unitron’s Customer Advisory Board and a graduate of The University of Minnesota. You can email him at adam@icanhearthat.com and you can visit The Hearing Professionals at www.icanhearthat.com.

One response »

  1. Well that settles the question. I was very excited when I was told I could use my friend’s old hearing aid. Now I understand why I can’t I guess I was just too excited and wasn’t really thinking about the fact that hearing aids are so personal.

    Reply

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