Are you frustrated with sorting through the various solutions to treat your hearing challenges?
You have probably seen several different options at prices from less than $100 all the way up to several thousand, even up to $10,000.
Finding the right treatment for your hearing challenges is an investment into your future that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
However, what are you getting for the investment you make?
Helping you navigate the landscape of hearing loss treatment options is the subject of this month’s blog, which will provide you with a breakdown of the treatment options available and what’s included in each one.
What to Consider before Making a Choice
One of the challenges of hearing loss treatment is that there are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions.
Because the range of prices and services is so broad, you really must start your search with a basic understanding of what you’re really looking for. Ask yourself some questions about what you want, such as:
- What hearing challenges am I experiencing?
- Will I need professional support, or can I go it alone?
- Do I prefer in-person or remote support?
- Am I looking for the best or budget-priced solutions?
Armed with an understanding of what you’re looking for makes it easier to narrow your choices to the options that are right for you.
Treatment Options with Professional Support
Because hearing loss is different for each person, professional support is critical when it comes to achieving your desired outcome.
Professional support is provided by a doctor of audiology or hearing instrument specialist and usually includes a hearing evaluation, personalized programming of your hearing device, and ongoing support that can include troubleshooting, maintenance, and repair as well as ongoing testing to evaluate the success of treatment.
The type and amount of professional support you’ll receive depends upon the treatment option you choose. The following three treatment options come with some level of professional support.
1. Working with a Local Audiologist – Price: $2500 - $7500
- Personal treatment and care by a doctor of audiology
- Highest level hearing aid technology
- Personal ongoing support focused on your hearing health rather than your device
- Maintenance and repair support
- Insurance accepted
- Have to attend physical appointments
- Higher investment price
What sets this treatment option apart is that your audiologist will be ready to explore all possible causes and solutions for your hearing challenges rather than assuming you need a hearing aid.
Your comprehensive hearing assessment will include a physical examination of your ears to rule out obstructions, inflammation, and other hearing loss causes that are not helped by hearing aids.
The data gathered during your hearing exam is used to identify your specific type and severity of hearing loss to design the best possible treatment solution and program your device to address your needs.
In-person, ongoing support and care usually includes cleaning, readjustments, repairs, earwax removal, and other hearing care-related services as well as access to a team of experts focused on your specific hearing care needs.
You’ll also have access to the industry’s best hearing aid technology protected by warranties that cover damage and loss. Your health insurance may provide benefits for this treatment option.
2. Big Box Retail Stores (Costco/Sam’s Club, Etc.) – Price: $1250 - $4000
- Includes a hearing test
- In-person fitting and ongoing support
- Professional level technology
- Repair and loss warranty
- Hearing exam is not comprehensive
- Lacks ongoing personal service, must wait in line for support
- No insurance assistance
- Have to be a member of the club
Professional, prescription hearing aids by a reputable manufacturer are available at your local Costco or Sam’s Club, which may have an internal hearing aid center.
You will receive in-person, professional support with a hearing evaluation, fitting, programming adjustments, troubleshooting, maintenance, and repair. Your hearing aids will be covered by a loss/damage replacement warranty.
Your hearing test will not be as extensive as it is in an audiology clinic, and follow-up care and support in a retail environment can be a challenge.
A step in the right direction, this option comes up short when it comes to truly addressing your overall hearing health.
3. Direct-to-Consumer Hearing Aids with Remote Audiological Support – Price: $1850 - $2400
- Hearing test
- Technology from reputable manufacturers
- Some remote audiological support
- Money-back guarantee
- Online hearing test may not be accurate
- Nobody physically looks into your ears
- No in-person support
- Insurance provides no assistance
- Impersonal service
Purchasing hearing aids online is easy, convenient, and doesn’t require an appointment with a doctor of audiology. This treatment option is reasonably priced and does come with some professional support.
Although the devices sold are from reputable manufacturers, they are preprogrammed to address commonly used gain and sloping hearing loss targets, and adjustments are via a cell phone app and remote programming by online audiologists.
You will not have an in-person hearing examination that includes physically checking your ears. Support will be with a different person each time you call, and you will not receive any in-office troubleshooting, maintenance, and repair support.
The best you can hope for is a money-back guarantee rather than a 1 to 3 year loss/replacement warranty.
Treatment Options with NO Professional Support
These options may be okay if you’re dealing with a mild to moderate hearing loss that is an inconvenience in some listening environments rather than something that truly disrupts your lifestyle and quality of life.
These treatments would be the equivalent of purchasing a magnifying glass or reading glasses to assist you with specific vision challenges rather than meeting a greater vision challenge that requires prescription glasses.
These treatment options may come with some technical support and/or troubleshooting but no professional support from a doctor of audiology or a hearing instrument specialist.
1. OTC Hearing Aids – Price: $800 - $2500
- Competitive pricing
- Easily accessible
- Purchase from home
- Not a custom solution
- No hearing test
- Self-fitting (comfort issues)
- No support
- No damage/loss warranty
- Addresses mild to moderate hearing losses only
Many people assume that the readymade solution to their hearing challenges is available from OTC (over-the-counter) hearing aids.
In reality, OTC hearing aids do not include prescription level technology and are designed to address only mild to moderate hearing loss.
There is no hearing test involved, which means that you will be rolling the dice when it comes to whether you receive the right help from your hearing aids to help resolve your hearing loss challenges.
2. PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplification Products) – Price: $79 - $1250
- Easy access
- Budget priced
- One size fits all
- No testing
- Comfort issues (self-fitting)
- No support
- Amplifies all sounds equally
PSAPs are technically not really hearing aids. They are an amplification tool designed to amplify the sounds around you in specific environments.
They do not require a hearing test, they are not customized to address any specific hearing challenge, and they amplify all sounds equally.
You can expect no more personalized support than you would expect if you purchased an electric razor or any other electronic gadget, and they are regulated by consumer organizations rather than the FDA.
3. Earphones with a Cell Phone App – Price: $0 - $250
- Uses technology you have
- Does not address your specific hearing loss (amplifies everything)
- No testing
- Includes little to no support or care
You can use your smartphone’s microphone, an app, and a pair of earphones or earbuds to supply amplification in certain environments by using technology you may already own.
The benefits are in the quality of the receiver device (earphones/earbuds) and the quality and options available through the app. With a subscription ($60 per year +), you may have access to certain amplification features like background noise control, enhanced speech, reducing own-voice amplification, and others.
You’re on your own as far as whether you’re getting the help you need and will have no professional support to ensure that your device is providing the right help.
Hearing Loss Surgery (Electronic Implants) – Price: $30,000 – $50,000
- Best solution when hearing aids do not provide a solution
- Innovative advanced level technology
- Must meet certain qualifications
- Requires surgical procedure
This option reaches a different level and type of hearing loss available to most people.
Electronic implants are not available for purchase online, over the counter, in any retail environment, or in many audiology clinics because they require access to a surgeon to be implanted.
Electronic implants (cochlear implants) are designed to address profound hearing loss that is not helped by traditional hearing aids and is only available to individuals who qualify for it.
Before implant surgery is done, a doctor of audiology, a surgeon, and anesthesiologist will collaborate to determine if the surgery will return the anticipated results without severe negative complications.
Implant surgery is expensive because it involves surgeons, facilities, anesthesia, and device programming, which can add up to between $30k and $50k. Fortunately, most of these expenses may be covered in full or in part by your health insurance.
Making a Choice
One of the major drawbacks to attempting to treat your hearing challenges on your own is the fact that without a comprehensive hearing test, you have no idea whether you actually need hearing aids or what type and severity of hearing loss you need to address.
Rather than blindly looking for a solution that meets your budget, consider Upstate Hearing Aid Center.
You will have the advantage of knowing what hearing challenges you’re addressing and access to the best treatment options to ensure success at our local audiology clinic.