Just to be upfront, I wear hearing aids and have worked in the industry for more than 20 years. I agree with what Cowboy said about 100% and my hat is off to him for a good post.
Since the OP asked and I feel I can contribute to this thread I'll just add some general knowledge about hearing aids.
There are 6 major manufacturers of hearing aids and they make 90% of the hearing aids made no matter the brand name they are sold under so there isn't near as many choices as it first appears.
I regularly try new technologies and have found all the major brands to be about the same in actual sound processing although the features offered can vary from model to model and it is those features that make them work for each individual's sound environments - or not - as Cowboy posted. So evaluate how much noise you are regularly in, how much humidity, etc and find features that are designed for your lifestyle requirements.
All the manufacturers come out with a new generation of technology about once a year, the new and improved modelsÖ
They also release each generation in technology levels; top/16 - 20 channels, mid/about 12 channels, and economy/ 8 channels or so. Oh, and they also charge a couple hundred more per aid each level you move up. Be careful here, I don't think I could tell the difference between the mid level and the top level if my life depended on it in average amounts of noise. So again evaluate how much noise you are in and spend accordingly.
There are three ways to buy hearing aids for the most part. The following is a brief description of each:
First is the traditional method of going to a local licensed hearing aid dispenser or dispensing audiologist in a brick and mortar store front. It usually starts with getting your hearing tested, then being sold and fitted with a hearing aid they recommend with an included service package. This is considered to be the most expensive route due to bundling an open ended "free Service" package into the sales price of the hearing aids.
Next is a hybrid method of buying the hearing aids online with a local provider providing a service package. This is usually less expensive due to the service package being limited to what is actually needed instead of paying for service you don't use in the first method.
And last is an online purchase, shipped direct to you ready to wear. In this method you get a hearing test done locally and send in a copy which is then used to program the hearing aids prior to being shipped. This is the least expensive method.
Which way is best? I participate in doing business using all three methods and will say each person considering hearing aids needs to be familiar with each route.
The best advise I can give anyone is to start with getting your hearing tested by a professional ensuring you get a copy of the results which are called your audiogram. With an audiogram you can explore all three methods and see which one fits you.
One point about hearing aids - they cannot attenuate sound so even if you occasionally think of them as ear plugs Ö