Need guidance on choosing an audiologist and HA brand

Hello,

I’ve been wearing hearing aids for a while and bought the Widex Passion back in 2008 and had a decent experience with them. Since then my audiologist retired and I couldn’t quite find a good replacement. So I ended up going to Costco to buy the Resound Lynx 3D a few years ago.

I know others might have had a different experience, but personally I’ve been having a really terrible experience with Costco and the Resound. I’ve come to the realization that a hearing aid fitter doesn’t quite fill the same needs as an audiologist.

This time around I decided to really take the time to research audiologists and hearing aids. I did some searching and reading online but I’m making this post hoping to get some additional insights or advice that I may have missed. Some questions:

  1. When you go to a clinic to see an audiologist, what are some signs that distinguish a good one from a bad one? What kind of questions should I be asking them?

  2. I’ve been to several clinics ranging from small to medium sized practices, large hospitals, and a big university clinic. They all seemed decent enough and have their pros and cons. I narrowed down my options a little bit but I can’t quite figure out which one I should go to. Can someone give me advice or guidance on how I should approach this?

  3. Some of the clinics I’ve been to seem to really push me towards one manufacturer and seem to implicitly discourage trying out several brands (which I would like to do). Why is this and is this a bad sign? An advice I got from someone was to try out various brands then go with an audiologist that “specializes” in fitting that particular brand.

  4. I’m particularly interested in the Widex Evoke Fusion, but I read somewhere that Widex may be introducing a new platform in the upcoming months. I read something about it being called the Widex Enjoy? (on the Widex Denmark website). Is this something I should wait for? Anyone know anything about this?

I apologize in advance for the post being so long but I figured having a discussion on some of these questions would not only help me but others that might be in a similar situation.

Here is a copy of my audiogram: Imgur: The magic of the Internet

Thank you!!

Some clinics work on commission. The higher the price of the hearing aid they sell, the more money they make. Others like Costco work on salary only, not commission. Some clinics do the full real ear measurement (REM) and others (up to 50%) do not. Trial and return policies differ from clinic to clinic.

My thoughts are that with respect to how well you hear, the critical part is trying different hearing prescription formulas and then fine tuning the fitting of the one that is best for you. Getting the right type of fitting and the right size of venting is critical too. I don’t think there are magical brands that are significantly different than others. The number and type of bells and whistles differ some from brand to brand. And if you want to direct stream to your smart phone there are some brands that are better than others. iPhones provide for the most fexibility, but there are aids now that work with both Android and iPhones like the new Costco KS9.

My thoughts would be to not give up on Costco. Are there other warehouses you could try, or different fitters at the warehouse you are currently dealing with? Sometimes it comes down to a personality fit.

What kind of issues are you having with your current aids? You do have quite a significant high frequency loss, and probably no hearing aid is going to be “perfect”.

At the top right of the screen in the blue bar there is a link to enter your audiogram data. It makes it convenient as it will be stored in your avatar and will be available to everyone with each of your posts.

Your loss is quite high in the feedback sensitive area of 3-4 kHz, and feedback could be a significant risk even with double domes. Are you using domes or a custom mold? Compromising on the fitting type and vent size can mean that gain has to be reduced from the required amount to stop feedback.

Thanks for your response. I tried three different fitters at the warehouse I go to which is actually the Costco headquarters. I think I’m done with Costco, and I feel that I already put in enough effort to try and make it work.

There are also just many different things I’ve been unhappy with the Resound I currently have as well (Build quality, bluetooth connectivity, etc). But most importantly I’ve been having issues with the comfort of the fit and with the way they sound. I’m currently using a double dome but I’ve been told by several audiologists that I can go with a tulip dome. I also tried a custom mold at Costco, but wasn’t happy with them as they weren’t too comfortable and were way too conspicuous.

I’m trying to see if I can somehow cut costs or have my insurance pay for some of the cost. Based off someone’s suggestion, right now I’m thinking of maybe testing out different manufacturers like the Oticon and Widex, then buying it online at a cheaper price.

Then maybe take that to a big hospital or a non-profit university clinic to do the tuning and fit. If my insurance doesn’t cover the hearing aids, I think they’ll at least cover the hearing tests and fitting I believe.

interesting question I think…how to shop around for hearing aids.
In theory it seems very straightforward…go around and visit various clinics and find one you like…

but as in my case, I went to the one that was most convenient to home for a test. She put me in a trial set, and by then I felt hooked more or less. Don’t get me wrong, she seems knowledgeable, was generous with trial units and patient with questions, etc…so I’m happy overall
there are things I’m not so happy about…and a lot of those things I would not have known to even look for before I started learning through the process…
and there’s no way it seems to really know the audiologist and what level of service until you at least get deep into testing, etc…
so
in a few years, if I chose to consider others, what to do?..so good question!

You sound like you’ve pretty much decided on the way you’re going to proceed. Sounds like a disaster to me in that I don’t think you’ll find anybody to adjust hearing aids purchased online at what you consider to be a reasonable cost. If you’ve given up Costco, I’d encourage seeking recommendations for a good audiologist and lowering your expectations.

Based on the Rexton software you are into trouble with double domes. Here is what I see with double domes. The shaded areas are areas of potential feedback. The light, heavy, and light curves from top to bottom are the gains for soft, normal, and loud sound levels. You are solidly into feedback territory.

The best relief in theory, is custom molds, but I appreciate your comments about comfort. I have custom molds and in the computer they work, but I am not real happy with the comfort factor in real life. If you are not prepared to go with custom molds only other choice is to cut back on gain. Tulips are going to give you more feedback than double domes.

My son has the F2s and I have the custom evoke ip 440, we were both born with nerve deafness down to 85db apx. We both love the hearing aids. An audiologist will understand the complexities of hearing loss better but a dispenser who fits Widex a lot should have a good knowledge of the product. They should know how important it is to select the correct vent size, fit the aids with the sensogram and then do the feedback calibration. They should be able to move between the programme screens fairly confidently. I had several no go fittings before finding someone as above. I tried Resound once under pressure from the dispenser. After Widex they were harsh and music was horrible, it just didn’t compare. The Evokes are well established now so with a good fitter you should get the best of it now.

There seems to be two things you may be dealing with and I think it is a good idea to keep them separate. The first is your perception of Costco and their fitters based on your experience and the second is how well Resound seems to be working for you. They may be related . . .or not.

I wore the Resound Lynx2 RICs for three years and was never satisfied with them, especially their performance in noisy environments and also connectivity issues (they were one of the first Made for iPhone products and I think they were on both the cutting and bleeding edges of technology). The Resound sound just never worked for me despite multiple adjustments over time.

I’m now wearing Widex Evoke 440s which are a HUGE improvement for me in terms of sound quality overall and performance in noise. I can’t say whether they would work for you (and you can’t get them at Costco), but I would encourage you to definitely experiment with another brand to see if that improves your experience. Your brain may just be wired better for another brand’s sound than Resound.

Costco now offers Phonak, so that would be one way to go. You’d keep one variable constant while changing out the other. Changing both, you’ll never really be sure if it was Costco or the hearing aid that led to your disappointment. At this point, though, it seems like you may be up for making both changes. If so, that is definitely your prerogative, and I wish you great success.

Chris

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As others have mentioned, if you buy aids online, you will have difficulty getting an anyone to program them. I do self programming, and wouldn’t have it any other way. If you feel better going to an audiologist, the first thing I would look for is to see if they listen to you. If they just do an audiogram and set the aids up for your prescriptive loss, you most likely won’t be happy with the results. This is where listening, and being willing do go to extra lengths comes in. Don’t be afraid to tell them that what they did doesn’t work. Often, hearing more sounds doesn’t mean hearing better. They will try to convince you that you are hearing better when that might not really be the case. You have to be your own advocate. Everyone is different, so I wouldn’t put too much confidence in what other patients of a particular Audiologist have to say. It isn’t a bad thing to try to get others’ impressions of an Audiologist you are contemplating seeing, just be cautious. You mentioned that you tried moulds but didn’t like them. I would urge you to give them a second look. I thought I wouldn’t be able to wear them because I can’t stand to use earbuds. But, much to my surprise, I find them more comfortable than domes. I have heard others say they had a really tough time getting moulds to work. They aren’t for everybody.

I think that’s a great point. Probably what’s impressed me most about my audiologist…not in a hurry to get me out and is patient with questions, etc…

I was thinking about this thread a while ago…
maybe another key point that might or might not be readily apparent…i they know what they are doing, they’re more than likely to get it right the first time. (picking the brand/model… setting the program… selecting which features to turn on… or whatever)
I’m not sure how you’d be able to cull through some of this if shopping around and just doing a “drop in to meet the Dr.” visit, comparing different providers.

I see, thanks for the information, it’s probably something I’ll have to work out with a audiologist. I learned that Phonak has some kind of proprietary technology with custom earmolds and they can do titanium earmolds so maybe I should look into that.

I see, yeah to me the Resound doesn’t sound very good and is kind of harsh.

Thanks, I used Widex before so reading your experience with Widex is a bit encouraging. Widex is definitely what I’m leaning towards when I switch. I can see the point you’re making with keeping one variable constant but there are specific things with both Costco and the actual Resound hearing aids that I am unhappy with even though something like maybe the programming and fitting wasn’t optimal.

I see, thanks for your advice! What brand hearing aids do you wear and do you happen to know anything about Phonak titanium earmolds?

If you do buy online a university may be you best bet to have programming done.
Good luck in what can seem like an endless journey.

I wear Phonak Marvels. I got them for free from the VA.
Regarding the titanium moulds, it is my understanding that they use them when ear canals are too narrow to allow enough wall thickness with acrylic. My moulds are acrylic, and different from the ones I had previously. They are pretty small, and have a small silicone rubber tube sticking out about a quarter of an inch. There is no wax guard. Phonak calls them cShells.