You may have a friend or loved one that passes away and leaves behind their hearing aids. Or you may see used hearing aids for sale online.
Whether you can actually use a used hearing aid will depend on the following 3 things.
1. The type of hearing aid
If the hearing aid is an In-the-Ear (ITE, ITC, CIC) hearing aid that has been custom cased for the wearer's ear, then it will not fit someone else's ear. If you try to put someone else's in-the-ear hearing aid in your ear (which we don't recommend), then you will see that it either falls out, sticks out, or is uncomfortable in your ear. That is because that hearing aid was molded via an earmold impression to the shape and size of the original wearer's ear.
One way to utilize a used in-the-ear hearing aid would be to have it “recased”. This would involve having an earmold impression taken of your ear by a hearing healthcare professional and sending the hearing aid and the earmold impression to the hearing aid manufacturer to have them “recase” it.
Once the hearing aid has been recased, the hearing aid will need to be “reprogrammed” by your hearing healthcare professional to the prescription of YOUR hearing loss.
Recasing and reprogramming a hearing aid can be very expensive. There will be a charge from the hearing aid manufacturer for the recasing, as well as a charge from the hearing healthcare professional for the reprogramming. In this case, buying a new hearing aid may end up being the less expensive option.
If the hearing aid is a Behind-the-Ear (BTE) hearing aid, then you would not need to have the hearing aid recased. This hearing aid style is “one-size-fits-all”. However, the piece that connects to the hearing aid, the earmold, is NOT one size fits all and would need to be purchased separately in order to utilize the hearing aid.
An earmold can be ordered by a hearing healthcare professional by taking an earmold impression. Once the earmold is ready, the hearing healthcare professional would need to reprogram the hearing aid to the prescription of YOUR hearing loss.
Purchasing a new earmold is usually less expensive than having to recase a hearing aid, but you will still be paying for the reprogramming of the used hearing aid to meet your hearing needs. The savings of a used behind-the-ear hearing aid may end up being minimal.
2. The age of the hearing aid
If the used hearing aid is over 5 years old, the technology is considered outdated. While the hearing aid will need to be reprogrammed by a hearing healthcare professional, the limitations in the programming of an older hearing aid may make it unsuitable for your hearing needs.
Hearing aid technology is updated frequently and once the new technology is utilized, much older models become obsolete.
3. Your hearing loss
All hearing aids have a “fitting range”, which is the range of hearing loss that it can accommodate with programming. If your hearing loss is outside the fitting range of the used hearing aid, the hearing aid can not be reprogrammed to meet your hearing needs. This needs to be taken into account when considering the use of a used hearing aid. Your hearing healthcare professional should be able to tell you whether the used hearing aid is compatible with your hearing loss.
Wearing a used hearing aid may seem like a good way to save money on hearing aids, but this is usually not the case.
The three factors discussed above will determine whether or not you can wear a used hearing aid and whether or not it will end up saving you or costing you more.