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Can I Wear Someone Else’s Hearing Aids?

There are times when hearing aids can no longer be used by their owner, perhaps they have passed on or they have purchased upgraded technology. If you are considering using a previously owned pair of hearing aids, stay tuned to see if it’s possible and whether or not they will work for you.



Hi, I’m Jim Cuddy and this is Ask The Hearing Doctors. And I’m joined today by Dr. Ashly Wilcox, Dr. Adriana Martineau, doctors of audiology with Hearing Doctors. The Washington DC area’s highest-rated audiology practice with over 1500, five-star reviews. Adriana, Ashly great

to see you both. Thank you.


So the question today is: Can I wear someone else’s hearing aids? Can you?


It depends. There’s two different styles, there’s a custom style of hearing aid and then there’s a receiver style hearing aid or a behind-the-ear hearing aid which sits behind your ear. For custom style hearing aids unfortunately, no, you cannot. There’s different reasons around why that is. And for a custom hearing aid it’s molded to that specific person’s ear that was dispensed that hearing aid. So what that means is that if you try to put a custom hearing aid into your ear when it wasn’t made for your ear, it typically will it will not fit right. And so if it doesn’t fit right then you’re not getting the proper amplification which means that we are would not be aiding you appropriately.


In addition you also would get something that you would probably that has been called feedback. Which means that when something pushes up against your ear canal that’s providing gain your ear will be squealing. So it’s just not a good fit. So customs is just out of the question. Because of the shape? Everyone’s ear canal is different shape? Yeah, it we have bends in our ear canal and everybody sitting here all has a different shape. So even though it might look like oh I can use that hearing aid, it’s just um it’s not a good idea.


So what about the behind-the-ear is that a possibility?


Yeah. Yeah. So it depends there’s a couple of different factors. Behind-the-ear usually more um customized or we’re able to make some adjustments. So behind-the-ear it depends it might be a a tube style with an earmold. If we’re going that route, you would have to get your own earmold. Going back to the custom you know if that behind-the-ear style had an earmold already from the previous owner we would not be able to use that. But we could retake your own earmold if it’s appropriate for your hearing loss. If it’s a receiver-in-the-ear style hearing aid that we can do some more customizing depending on your hearing loss. We can typically change the length of the wires and the little rubber domes but there are still some factors that come into play even with that. So yeah and some of those factors can be like the power of the chip in the hearing aid itself. So once we would we would have to verify your hearing. So we’d have to assess your hearing and then we’d have to verify it. But if that hearing aid that you brought in is would not provide you with enough power and enough appropriate gain or fit for you, then that would be something that unfortunately we just couldn’t do. So that’s kind of when you have to just go see your audiologist and discuss what the best options are for you.


You know we often talk about lifestyles and and the improving your lifestyle with hearing aids and that kind of thing. So lifestyle considerations I would think would have to be something to determine whether somebody can reprogram or reuse an old hearing aid? Yeah so we can usually we can tell what the technology level of a hearing aid is when you bring it in. And the reason why lifestyle and technology levels come into play is because depending on your lifestyle and what your daily environment looks like if your conversing with a lot of people, group settings, you’re in a lot of background noise, you’re running meetings, stuff like that you live a very active lifestyle. So you want a higher level technology to be able to work with you. It will have better noise reduction, better sound quality and clarity.


If your lifestyle is a little bit more quiet, you’re just at home most of the time just watching TV, you could probably get away with the lower level technology. It’s still going to meet your needs. It just doesn’t necessarily have all the bells and whistles. So when you bring in the hearing aid we’ll look at what technology level it even is and we’ll figure out what are your needs? What’s your lifestyle? Is this appropriate for you? You know there’s a lot of things to consider. Do you want to stream phone calls with Bluetooth? Newer technology hearing aids have that while older ones don’t usually have that. So there’s a lot of things that come into play and we’ll be able to better figure figure that out for you. Yeah. Bottom line is really that um it’s best if you bring it into us so we can just fully give it a good evaluation and we can give you our best recommendation. Okay, very good. Thank you both for your time today. Yeah, thank you. Thank you.


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Dr. Ana Anzola, CCC-A, FAAA, ABA Principal

Dr. Anzola received her Doctorate degree in Audiology (AuD) from the Arizona School of Health Sciences, and her Master’s Degree in Audiology and her Bachelor's Degree in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from Towson University. She has been a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA) since 1995, board-certified by the American Board of Audiology (ABA), and certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).


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