The journey to better hearing often starts with a little research. Before choosing a hearing health provider and buying hearing aids, there are some important steps to take along the way.

Seek help

If a hearing aid is appropriate, it’s crucial to pick a hearing professional who answers all your questions and listens to your concerns. Options include an audiologist, who has a master’s or doctoral degree, or a licensed hearing instrument specialist, who will be equally knowledgeable.  Ask relatives and friends who have a hearing aid.

Check insurance coverage

The initial evaluation normally is covered, but until recently the hearing aid, fitting and follow-up were rarely covered. Some Medicare plans will pay for part of your purchase, Concept will check and file for you.

Besides an initial evaluation, you’ll need a fitting that includes programming the device and training on insertion, cleaning and battery changing.

Get tested

It should be free.  At this stage you should receive a 45- to 60-minute test analyzing your hearing loss, such as whether your problem is mainly with low frequencies or high frequencies. High frequency hearing loss is the most common loss and is typically caused from noise exposure.

Discuss your specific problems

For many, that’s trouble talking on the phone and hearing conversations at a party or restaurant. For those still working, it may be difficulty participating in office meetings.

Knowing those details will help your professional pick the most suitable device. You can have multiple settings for specific situations, such as quietly listening to music, trying to hear over all the background chatter at church bingo or carrying on a conversation when you’re driving and can’t watch the passenger’s face.

Review optional features

If you want multiple settings for different sound situations, you might consider a remote control to switch between settings or many hearing aids can be controlled with your free cell phone app.

Feedback control, which prevents loud squealing and whistling, is a must.

You likely will want directional hearing aids; they have two or three microphones, which helps you focus on what you want to hear and can reduce annoying background noise.

If you use a cellphone, ask about hearing aid compatibility. For example, there are hearing aids that are iPhone compatible.  They can stream a call directly into your hearing aids, or stream movies, music and even face time right into your hearing aids for better clarity and communication.

But you may not need the most advanced bells and whistles. Those include hearing aids that are water-resistant and ones with accessories that streams to different audio sources.

Consider appearance

Options include devices that hook behind the ear, sit in the outer ear, or are in the ear canal and nearly invisible.

Beware of “bargains,” though  

Some hearing aids can be bought online, but most Internet offerings are really just personal sound amplifiers. Although they sell for as little as $100, they’re not regulated and are only for people who want volume boosted a bit but do not treat your hearing loss just amplify it.

Review the warranty

Hearing aids typically are covered for one to three years, and the first year may include replacing lost ones — a common problem, since they’re so small. An extended warranty might be smart. Concept offers 2 -5 year warranty depending upon technology level.