Hearing Aids

Hearing Aids: Cost Factors vs. Value (Is It Worth It?)

Why not mail order hearing aids?

Yikes! The cost of hearing aids continues to go up! The current cost for a hearing aid in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa is $1,000–$4,000. How could this be? Especially when I can get something from a magazine for $400!

I frequently get asked why someone should choose to see an audiologist instead of just getting mail-order hearing aids. Many people look at the bottom line ($$$) and make decisions from there. More sophisticated shoppers realize the difference between the value and the investment. This holiday season, take notice of what you are missing out on, and imagine how much better you could be doing if you had exceptional care and professional judgment. Do you get value out of your current devices? Would it make sense to get a second opinion?

Cheap hearing devices are…cheap!

The look and feel of the casing, the battery door, the piece of plastic that sits in the ear canal — none of it is high quality. There is even some danger to having an incorrectly sized dome stuck in your ear canal. From a sound quality standpoint, if you were to examine the sounds that these devices amplify, it is often louder but is not set up to match the individual’s hearing loss. The individual’s loudness preferences are also not taken into account for loud/soft sounds. There is even a danger that some sounds could cause more hearing loss if the settings are at unsafe levels.

Additionally, background noise is not removed at all, and many describe sounds as akin to a cheap transistor radio. Care and maintenance are poorly explained. Also, when the hearing aid breaks or if the individual has a question, where do they go for help? There are no local places that can serve them because no one has the parts or the programming capabilities. If they are lucky, they may have kept the original address or phone number so they can send the device back to the factory, hopefully receiving it back in a couple weeks. But worst of all, after two to three months of trying to hear and finally giving up, it’s a waste of $400, which could have been spent on something much more valuable.

Get professional advice

Having a local audiologist is a good start toward better hearing. Part of what you pay for is the service that you receive. It is important to know how to properly insert, remove, and clean the device, as well as change the battery. (Yes, there are instructions for that too!) But what about knowing what to expect and what kind of adjustments may be needed over the next three weeks, three months, three years, and the rest of the life of the device? In my professional opinion, adjusting hearing aids is like adjusting your training for a marathon. It is a good idea to start easy in the beginning and turn up the sound over time. Everyone deserves a program customized to their unique needs.

Technology matters

Lower-cost hearing devices come with fewer options and less ability to process the signal in background noise. Still, if cost factors are really an issue, it is good to know that a less-expensive device only costs a little more than the $400 you were originally going to throw away. A more basic device is still much better than what mail-order devices can offer.

We can help

Finding the right professional is a personal decision. AudigyCertified™ practices offer trial periods to ensure that a customized process has successfully been started and that your investment is a good decision. Additionally, verification ensures the settings are correct for each individual’s loss. They also work hard to keep your investment in top working order for its lifetime. While the average life of a hearing aid is about five years, it is not unusual for patients to get six to eight years or more from some devices.

Hearing Loss

October is National Audiology Awareness Month

Hearing loss awareness

Over 36 million American adults have some degree of hearing loss. That is over 4 times the amount of people who live in New York City. The statistics are shocking, and they are even more so shocking knowing that over half of those 36 million Americans are under the age of 65. It is no longer just a health concern for seniors.

Causes of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noises, trauma, ear disease, harm to the inner ear, illness, or deterioration due to the normal aging process. The amount of noise Americans are exposed to today plays an important role in the recent increase of hearing loss across the nation.

Some signs of hearing problems are:

• Trouble hearing conversation in a noisy environment such as restaurants
• Difficulty following along in group conversations
• Increasing the volume on the television and the sound still not being clear
• Difficulty or inability to hear people talking to you without looking at them
• Withdrawal from social gatherings

If you think you might have a hearing loss, a hearing evaluation will determine the degree and what can be done. Although most hearing loss is permanent, an audiologist can determine the best treatment.

In response to the growing number of Americans suffering from hearing loss, the American Academy of Audiology has launched National Audiology Awareness Month each October. Now is a great time to make an appointment with your AGX hearing care provider.