And if you also wear glasses it is even worse. There are some tactics that will prevent or minimize the likelihood of loss. And if you have hearing aids that are fully into the ear, for example, the Eargo models, there is very little likelihood that you would lose them. But if you are wearing a style that doesn’t have ear loops, such as the Milwaukee Face Shield Gaiter 4223R, you only have to worry about your glasses. Alternatively, you could purchase a NeoSensory Buzz hearing aid, which is worn on your wrist.
A large number of people—especially in poorer countries–who are hard of hearing cannot afford to purchase big-brand hearing aids. Sound World Solutions was founded by two men who wanted to provide affordable hearing aids to those people. An earlier product was the basic Personal Sound Amplifier CS50, which—like all Personal Sound Amplifier Products (PSAPs)–could make sounds louder but could not address all of the user’s hearing difficulties. We purchased a pair (left and right) of CS50’s several years ago, and it did improve our hearing. But as our hearing worsened we needed a more sophisticated product, so when Sound World Solutions introduced its HD75 hearing aids pair we bought it. In the meantime, we had purchased a pair of hearing aids from one of the major brands that cost about five times the HD75’s. (The major brands are typically sold through networks of audiologists, who examine the buyers and fine-tune the hearing aids for those buyers.) We lost ONE of the major brand’s units and had to pay to replace it, at a price (after insurance) higher than the PAIR of HD75’s. More recently, we are using our HD75’s because the masks that we are required to wear to combat the coronavirus are concerned that the masks will knock them off our ears.
Sound World Solutions is one of many companies competing for the PSAP market; this market has minimal regulations. To protect consumers, finally, this week, Senators Warren (D-MA) and Grassley (R-IA) asked the FDA to look into regulating the OTC market for hearing aids, without delay.
If you are rich enough or lucky enough to have a top-rated brand of hearing aids such as Oticon, ReSound, Starkey, or Widex you can control them using a smartwatch. You can control them–as well as the Hearlink range of Philips and Zerena range of Bernafon—using a smartwatch. You can also control a range of other brands using Starkey’s TruLink Hearing Control using the iPhone and iPad, as well as some Pebble smartwatches, three Android Wear watches, the Samsung Gear S Moto 360, and Asus Zen Watch.
CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) are repetitive DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid) molecule) sounds like science fiction, but it has won its developers’ Nobel Prizes. Scientists are already using it to reduce the severity of genetic deafness in mice, and are hoping to use it for newborn human babies. However, like numerous other new technologies, there are lurking dangers that hopefully will not preclude its use.
There is a growing volume of OTC (over-the-counter) hearing aids. These OTC products are virtually always considerably cheaper than the prescription (non-OTC) ones (that always involve an audiologist). Before the emergence of these new models, many deaf or hard-of-hearing people refrained from purchasing hearing aids because they were too expensive. However, in 2016 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced important changes in the law that made these OTC permissible to sell, and at considerably lower prices.
Size matters. As people age, they not only may become hard of hearing but also may have less nimble fingers, so tiny (especially in-the-ear) hearing aids may not be advisable (unless it uses Bluetooth so can be adjusted from their cellphone). Actually, it would be better for them to ignore their vanity and buy larger hearing aids so that others know that they are hard of hearing and speak louder. And it is generally easier and cheaper to make larger hearing aids.
A bunch of “big hat no cattle” low-priced hearing aids and PSAPs (personal sound amplification products) brands have full-page splashy advertisements in magazines and newspapers (sometimes only once or twice, then gone). We personally had an experience with the now-defunct Soundhawk, which suffered from poor customer service, lack of Bluetooth (which, combined with microscopic buttons, made adjustment impossible). Here are some (there are others whose absence from the list does not imply they are inferior) that have been around long enough that buyers can expect to receive satisfactory after-sale support:
As hearing aid technology marches forward, more and more hearing aids don’t need audiologists to prescribe and service. The tiny in-the-ear Eargo hearing aids, which are rechargeable on the go, were designed in Silicon Valley and financed in Wall Street. This new company’s three models have already garnered a bunch of impressive reviews. And with the choice of the Huge as Eargo’s creative agency of record Eargo is sparing no efforts to become one of the leading hearing aid manufacturers.
Wearing face masks is important to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 virus. Unfortunately, some country leaders don’t set a good example, e.g., German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump refused to wear them. But the masks make it hard for others to understand the speaker. Fortunately, there is a way to prevent these misunderstandings, namely to incorporate a transparent section that permits listeners to get the additional information by reading the speaker’s lips. You can buy them already made, or make them yourself.
If you, like many other hearing aid wearers, are affected by a build-up of ear wax in your hearing aid or your ear, you need to get rid of it. Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 virus, you would visit your hearing aid supplier’s office, which would clean both the hearing aid and your ears. But these days you can’t visit your hearing aid supplier’s office. You probably can, perhaps with the aid of a magnifying glass and a thin wire or perhaps a paper clip, rid the hearing aid of the wax. But you will very likely not be able to get rid of the wax in your ear safely (doctors advise against the use of Q-tips). We recently heard of a product that may be useful for getting the wax out of your ear, Q-Twists. However, it is not universally loved by doctors and buyers. We have just ordered one and will report on our own results later.
During the current pandemic, it is important to take all possible measures to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading. Doctors and dentists need to wear masks, or face shields, and practice strict cleanliness and distancing protocols during office visits and try and use telemedicine as much as possible. In the case of hearing aids, well-trained audiologists are expensive because their education and training are expensive. Audiologists’ offices are also pricey and using audiologists for hearing aid selection and fittings add considerably to their cost. Recently a company named Koalys launched a home audiology platform called Koalys Comfort to provide tele-consultation, remote diagnostics, and hearing aid fitting capabilities, Koalys introduced a more cost-effective communication between a hearing aids user and his/her audiologist. We believe that Koalys has a great potential to benefit the audiologists and consumers.
Hearing aid pricing seems like a bunch of random numbers. For most other products the price is proportional to their cost. But there are other factors in this product category. There are the “Big Six” makers who claim the most features and highest quality. They are usually sold by highly-educated and experienced audiologists, who also offer a bunch of related services such as measuring the customers’ needs, customizing the hearing aids (e.g., making custom-fit earpieces), and cleaning earwax from ears and the hearing aids).