Hearing Aid Experience and Opinion

Over the past 8 years, I’ve tried hearing aids that range in price from about $200.00 through $1700.00 per ear. In my past life, I worked as a product approver for telecommunications products and had a lab to test new products and innovations. When a product did not live up to expectations, I had the authority to ban its usage. My experience with hearing aids and their dependability, when compared to cost and performance, leads me to believe that they should be eliminated from the market until a reliable, inexpensive product is available. Considering cost, the warranty on ha’s is much too short. I’ve also noticed in viewing various forum discussions that the users seem to think that a lifetime of 2 to 3 years is acceptable. I think that this is totally unacceptable.
I’ve tried digital and analog devices from Resound, Omni and Audibel as well as a couple of very cheap units and an amplifier that I can wear in a shirt pocket with ear buds. The Resound had to be sent back several times and I was told that the problem was water. These were CIC units that spent more time being repaired than being worn. The second pair was the cheap CIC units which worked ok but also had numerous repairs. Apparently, it was a water problem again. I then went to Omni and got the behind the ear device to eliminate the water problem. This was adjusted a couple of times before tube between the ear plug and the aid came loose and I took it to my audiologist for repair. This was not my original audiologist since the original person I saw had moved elsewhere as had my first audiologist. These folks are vapor people. Anyway, I told the new guy that I wasn’t too happy with the aids and he said he could help me out. He measured my hearing loss again, took a new mold and ordered Audibel aids for me to try out. After they arrived, I drove home and found that they had quit working. I messed with them, changing batteries, checking the battery installation and cleaning. They still didn’t work. I returned them with a note that a couple of hours of use before breaking down is not my idea of success. I returned to using the Omni aids. A few weeks ago, my left aid seemed amiss. Upon checking, the tubing had broken and the aid was gone. Now I use the one remaining which is now an orphan since I believe Omni is no longer in business. As an analogy, think of the used car business that piles up customer violations and goes out of business only to reappear under a different name with a clean business slate. I use the shirt pocket unit as a backup. The only problem with it is that the ear buds make my ears sore. If anyone has any suggestions as to where I can pick up some tubing, I would appreciate the help. I don’t want to go to an audiologist because I feel like I’m negotiating with a used car salesman.
Speaking of used cars, have you noticed that the hearing aid folks have weekly sales in the newspapers? If their products were any good, they wouldn’t be that desperate for business. And, do you think these are really sales? My experience in visiting the audiologist/dealer during a sales period is that it is a “bait and switch” process.

My opinion is your experience sounds like when I tried one of the first old
completely in the ear analogs decades ago. My problem with the aid (a Siemens I think) is it got ear wax in it and there was no way to get it out except for output hole. After a week or two I went back to BTE and molds
deeming them more durable and reliable for my then childhood self.

Perhaps with moisture from your ears and your environment the CICs (completely in the canal? I assume) are not for you. With the thin tubes and
hearing aid sized these days I would venture to say that a BTE aid may be
not so visible anymore; with the benefits of being a bit less prone to moisture and wax…perhaps more durable.

You are right. The CIC’s that I tried did not fit my expectations and the aid that I wear today is a BTE. It’s far more comfortable and less of a problem. My recommendation for any user is the BTE. Thanks for the comment.

for the first time in long time, more bts are selling than ites/cic


PAXIL ATTORNEY

I’ll add my two bits worth as far as my recent few years with hearing aids. I have significant high frequency hearing loss,drops considerably in the 1000-4000 range (hz?) I’ve had now 4 hearing aids the past 5 years, and am turning the lastest high dollar set back in Monday. This has been a costly learning experience with about 6 different audiologists, or Certified Hearing Specialists at local centers around town. I emphasized early on that I could not afford two hearing aids at a cost much over 2000. The first set was a half-shell Phonak costing some 2400 total, with lousy results. The audiologist saw me about 6 times, and nothing good came of it, though I gave them a try for some months. About 8-9 months later, I dropped one on a hard floor and had a hairline crack in it. So the audiologist said they could repair it and re-check both my aids again,all to no avail. Nuff said about that pair.
Next I went to a top audiologist in a very lucrative private practice who swore by Starkey as the BEST. I went for that, and a couple of CIC aids for still bad high frequency loss. The cost for both was 4500 dollars, but I only had 4 weeks to turn them back in, or lose my money. Well, as it turned out, they were not so good either with poor hearing as well, and I had some family illness when I did not wear them. 6 weeks after the purchase, I took them back when some aide was assigned to me immediately after receiving the aids, and the woman just turned me off, seemed in a hurry to leave, and gave me a computer disc to use in “learning how to hear again”??? Learning how to hear again?? What the heck was that about? She sent me on my way, and I took the aids back within 6 weeks and told them I had to return them for a refund except the nominal impressions and mold fees. They charged me 1000 dollars, and took the aids back. What kind of rip-off was that?? I was infuriated.
It was awhile, but I decided to try a long-term hearing aid dealer locally next and told them I could NOT afford high dollar hearing aids that now run around $5000-6000 for some now recommended top of the line Phonak Savia aids. So the Hearing Aid Specialist told me he thought he could take accurate audiograms with various hearing tests that mainly included one testing done with a noise in the background. That is one of my biggest problems. He thought one of the BTE newer style aids would be adequate for my needs at 2800. Well 2800 was another chunk but sounded far better. So I went for those, and the power required just did not meet my needs and this guy who had been there for 29 years had left within 2 weeks after dispensing my aids. Another younger man was obviously not interested in Audina Sparos which he seem unfamiliar with. So another 2800 dollars were gone out of my pocket after 4 or 5 appts with him. I was really ready to give up.
This past 5-6 weeks, I finally made ONE last try, as my hearing requires so much repeated that it’s driving me nuts. So I went to another type hearing center that has Otometrists who use extensive testing in various sound situations, and the man was very explanatory more than anybody about what I had to do as we went along and determined just what kind of hearing aids would work best. He uses and this center uses a variety of brands from various Phonaks, to Audibel, Resound, Starkey, Unitronics, and about 5 other brands. It made sense to find out just which brand would work best. After he determined with all the testing that only 2 brands, the Phonak Eleva, or Savia, or the somewhat less expensive Unitronic Indigo Power brand would be the ONLY hearing aids best for my profound hearing loss as they were the only ones he said had very good feedback control programming available. So he picked Unitronic Indigos, and at first they seemed ok, but as I left each visit after adjustments, I came back with similar problems with inability to hear with much background noise, and a little too much feedback. So two settings either were blasting my ears, or too little volume. He adjusted these another couple of visits, and said I would require some VENTED molded custom fitted additions to correct such a problem. Then it went to hell. I wore them for about 3-4 days after he worked on adjustments, and it was clear that now I had a 5500 dollar pair of hearin aids, which he claims are the ONLY ones best for my hearin loss and I just gave up. I’m turning them in Monday. There was no up front charges, but I will have to return the aids with a nominal fee for the molds. This was the best man yet, and the promised ad and their goal was no money would be charged if anyone turns in any aids that did not suit my goals. These just occlude my ears, like some before, and I really liked the small “tulip” or " tiny umbrella shaped little dome that was not even noticeable compared to having my ears again filled with a “plug” with a vent-hole in it for some sort of hearing advantage. It feels so miserable to me, and like I’m back in the “barrel” again that I give up. God, this has cost me a fortune. I’m sick about it. But I wanted an aid that is BTE, and with the far more comfortable little umbrella shaped receiver. Somebody mentioned I should get Unitron Moxi,but he doesn’t like them because the receiver in the canal concept of that aid tends to get moisture, and ruined so I’d be replacing the receiver tip every 2 years. His goal is to provide a hearing aid or aids that last at least 5-7 years minimum, and he did not think the Unitron Moxi would be right for me. Hell, I’m just sick and tired of the whole thing. I think most of them ripped me off. I’m back to no hearin aids again, but felt this last guy WAS by far the most informative and educational specialist I had seen. He at least described how “tricky” fitting a hearing loss like mine is. But I’m not going to sit with yet another pair of aids making myself miserable with the full occusion kind again. Unless I can get the BTE with the small tube into the ear type, I don’t want them. It was far more natural at least with the less obstructive “tulip” small insertion inside the ear.

i OWN A FEW AUDIOLOGY OFFICES, AND BELIEVE IN DISPENSING WHAT IS BEST FOR MY PATIENTS, NOT WHAT IS BEST FOR MY POCKET. THE PROBLEM YOU ARE HAVING IS VERY COMMON, IT IS CALLED OCCLUSSION. IT IS THE FEELING OF BING “PLUGGED UP”, MUCH THE SAME PROBLEM CAUSED BY THE COMMON COLD. STAYING WITH AN “OPEN-FIT” HEARING INSTRUMENT IS THE WAY TO GO IN YOUR CASE. IT SEEMS THAT THE HEARING INSTRUMENTS YOU HAVE TRIED IN THE PAST HAVE BEEN OPEN, BUT HAVE HAD THE SPEAKER BEHIND THE EAR. SELECTING AN OPEN PRODUCT WITH A SPEAKER IN THE EAR WILL INCREASE THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE MIC AND SPEAKER AND REDUCE FEEDBACK. ALSO, SOUND TRAVELS DIFFERENTLY THROUGH DIFERENT MEDIUMS. LOW FREQUENCIES AND HIGH FREQUENCIES TRAVEL VERY DIFFERENTLY THROUGH THE LITTLE SKINNY TUBE. AS I TELL MY PATIENT’S, “A FAT MAN CANNOT FIT INTO SKINNY PANTS”, AS ALL THE SOUNDS CANNOT MAKE IT THROUGH THE SKINNY TUBE. AS FOR THE COMMENT OF THE PRODUCT NOT LASTING LONG BECAUSE OF MOISTURE AND ECT…THE SPEAKER IS COVERED UNDER WARRANTY AND CAN BE CHANGED IN THE OFFICE ON THE SPOT IF DAMAGED, AS OPPOSED TO HAVE TO BEING SENT IN FOR A WEEK. I HAVE TO AGREE THAT I WOULD RECOMMEND THAT YOU TRY THE UNITRON MOXI (MOXI JUST MEANS SPEAKER IN THE EAR). THE PRODUCT COMES WITH A 3 YEAR WARRANTY WHICH MEANS THE SPEAKER IS COVERED ALSO. THE HEARING INSTRUMENT SHARES THE SAME INTERNAL CHIP AS THE MORE $$$ PHONAK SAVIA, BUT ALSO COMES WITH PUSH BUTTON FOR VOLUME/ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL.

KEEP IN MIND THAT WE ARE LIMITED WITH TODAY’S TECHNOLOGY WITH HOW MUCH POWER WE CAN FIT WITH A OPEN FIT. THE OTHER FACTOR THAT IS ALSO VERY IMPORTANT ARE YOR DISCRIMINATION SCORES, ESPECIALLY IN NOISE. THE HEARING INSTRUMENT ONLY HAS THE ABILITY TO WORK WITH WHAT YOU HAVE LEFT TO GIVE. IF YOUR SCORES ARE CONSISTENTLY POOR, DON’Y EXPECT THE HEARING INSTRUMENT TO ACT LIKE A HEARING SOLUTION, REGARDLESS HOW MUCH OR HOW LITTLE THE $$$.

JUST AN FYI, WE HAVE DISPENSED OVER 200 UNITRON MOXI’S IN THE PAST YEAR, AMONGST STARKEY DESTINY’S, OTICON DELTA’S, AND ETC… I HAVE TO SAY, ALTHOUGH EVERY PATIENT IS DIFFERENT, OUR HIGHEST SATISFACTION RATE IS WITH THE MOXI’S.

Thanks for taking the time to provide a very extensive reply to my post. I have had the very same experiences you described and continue to have them. The hearing aid industry may have made great advances in reproducing noise but very little in isolating the human voice. I have new aids which work fine in a very quiet setting. Turn the TV on and it’s a different story. The background noise obliterates everything. I can hear a fly land on a cottonball but ordinary conversation is impossible in all but the quietest situations. I have come to one conclusion however. I no longer will visit any comercial retailer of hearing aids. I got the last pair of aids through a clinical audiologist that, by Kansas law, is not allowed to profit from their sale. The price I paid for them was higher than they are worth but considerably less than what was being offered by the local retailers.

less than 10 yrs ago, we only had for the most part instruments with trimmer
In fact i would say in the last 8-9 yrs we have come a long way… There are some instruments out there who does a great job @ speech enhancement…

this are really exciting times…


Lamborghini Alar

I am new to this…but not to hearing aids.

Having worn aids for over 15 years, I have tried CIC, ITE and BTE aids. My fit is a very difficult one as I have a loss of cartiledge in my outer ear which prevents me from wearing BTE’s. They just don’t stay on.

I have CIC’s that are over 10 years old and are still the best molds I have…I went to the factory when I worked for Miracle Ear and they are deep, but comfortable. I think a lot of CIC’s molds are too short.

It might sound strange, bit I think a deeper mold is more comfortable. It doesn’t move or slip. It is a lot more work to get right, but worth it.

I think I would wear something like the Delta if I could. Seperating speaker/mic make a lot of sense.

I fit both of these aids heavily even though I have many other brands available. The Moxi’s have an extra-power version available if needed. I have never had a single return on either of these models.

i think what is important, more than wether Moxi or Delta is better,
is who is going to fit your aid.

That said, your audi will decide which aid is more apporpiate based
on her experience with the fitting software along with other
consideratons…

What is important is to know what your options are…