If you have an appointment for a hearing evaluation, you might soon be faced with buying hearing aids. If the results of your hearing test show you need assistance, it pays to do some research in advance. Use the internet to research different types of hearing loss and hearing aid styles. Look at the different features available and the potential costs. Take notes and be sure to ask these questions before you buy a hearing aid.

1. How much will hearing aids help?

It’s important to have a realistic expectation for the outcome. Hearing aids do not repair or restore lost hearing. They do help you get the most out of the hearing ability you still have. If your hearing ability is different in each ear, you may get the most benefit from wearing two hearing aids instead of one. Select the hearing aid style that has the features you need to get the most out of your hearing ability.

2. Will I be able to operate my hearing aids?

If you have problems with manual dexterity or vision, make sure you select a hearing aid that is easy to operate. If the hearing aid has multiple programs and requires manual switching, make sure you can operate the switches. Hearing aids require continual cleaning, make sure you are selecting a hearing aid that you can clean given your visual and manual abilities.

3. What features are most important to me?

Assess your hearing needs and lifestyle. Identify the available features, know their benefits and match these with your hearing needs. If you frequently go to museums, concert halls or worship services a hearing aid with a telecoil may be important. If you like to spend time in restaurants, coffee shops and bars a directional microphone and noise reducing features may be more important. If you spend more time on the water than on the land, a waterproof hearing aid may be right for you.

4. Is there a trial period?

This is the same as asking, “what if I don’t like my hearing aids?” Most manufacturers offer a trial period during which you can return the hearing aid. These trials usually last about a month. There may be a restocking or return fee to cover the cost of dispensing, but you should get the purchase price back.

5. Is there a warranty?

The warranty varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model. Be sure you know the period of time covered by the warranty as well as what repairs are covered by warranty. Ask the audiologist if repairs can be made at their office or if the hearing aid must be returned for repairs. Many audiologists operate a loaner program to provide a loaner hearing aid if yours must be sent to the factory for repair.