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Never Throw Out an Old Hearing Aid.

Old hearing aids should never be thrown out. Here are my suggestions on what to do with old aids:

  1. Use them as spare hearing aids
  2. Give them to family members or friends who can’t afford hearing aids. (Most hearing aids can be reprogrammed to almost anyone’s hearing loss. We reprogram hearing aids all the time.)
  3. Donate them to an organization that will reprogram them for people in the community or the world. (Contact us for details).
  4. Donate dead aids to organizations like Starkey. They can use the functioning parts to repair other hearing aids.

Rechargeable Hearing Aids: what to do when the power goes out.

A patient came in for an appointment today and said her neighborhood is scheduled for a blackout today. The problem is, she has the type of rechargeable hearing aids with a charger that doesn’t have a built in battery pack.

I told her that one option is to have the classic cell phone battery charger that you plug into a wall. You would just have to make sure to keep it charged though. Personally, I wouldn’t keep up on that. Too many other things to think about.

So then I got an idea. A buddy of mine and I were watching surfers at the beach, and all of a sudden he pulls out a solar cell phone charger. Wow. That’s such a no-brainer. The affordable ones range in price between $15 and $70 too.

Here are some I’ve found that get high scores online:

Anker 21W solar charge

Renogy 5W solar panel

IEsafy 26,800 mAh battery bank

BigBlue 28W Solar Panel

Don’t Put Anything Smaller Than Your Elbow in Your Ear!

I actually have worked with one doctor who said it’s ok to use Q-tips, as long as you dip it in alcohol. They’re abrasive and the skin in your ear is delicate. On the other hand, I have a friend who ruptured her eardrum with a Q-tip because someone opened the bathroom door and it hit her elbow.

I told my son this rule when he was about four and he looked down at his elbow for a moment before deciding it wasn’t possible. Anyway, your call. But, officially, nothing smaller than your elbow.

There’s a lot going on right now, so I thought we could use some humor. It’s my favorite coping mechanism. Enjoy

https://www.theonion.com/toddler-scientists-finally-determine-number-of-peas-tha-1820347088?utm_campaign=The+Onion&utm_content=1591651621&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR3IXaGuQID3SJVzaPRVCwB6ZWln9X4KWOdC1zQPUkj1nd7OmhW7zEKGDu0

Over the Counter Hearing Aids

NPR covered over-the-counter hearing aids back in 2017. Since then, politicians have passed legislation that provides access to these new amplifiers. NPR, like the politicians, dismissed the audiology profession without talking to an unbiased expert in the field – not a doctor and not someone who sells hearing aids. Ruth Bentler at University of Iowa would have been a good choice. Todd Rickets at Vanterbilt would have been another.

The only way I’ve thought of to concisely explain what audiologists do is to compare them to orthodontists. You might ask why a bunch of wires cost $6,000. They’re just wires. It’s because they don’t help much if you don’t have an expert, with 6-8 years of education, custom fit them and fine tune them over time. Audiologists require at least 8 years of education.

I’m glad these amplifiers are out there, but they’re only appropriate for a limited group of people. I tell patients to try it out, but keep your receipt. I guess you could compare them to something like Invisalign knockoffs that you get on Amazon or at the drug store. They’ll work for a few people with slightly crooked teeth.

One last thing. The NPR podcast inferred that you have to spend $5000 on a pair of hearing aids. The $5000 ones can have a lot of benefits, but the quality of the fitting is at least as important as which hearing aid you get.

What really needs to happen is for legislators to come up with policies that help enforce competence and ethics. There are problems with both of those in this field. How you legislate something like that, I don’t know. That’s their expertise.

Costco Hearing Aids

I’ve gotten a lot of questions lately about the difference between me and Costco and why Costco’s hearing aids are so much less expensive.

Well, partly it’s because they buy a limited number of models from a limited number of manufacturers. So they buy in bulk. I can get any hearing aid from any manufacturer (except a couple of proprietary companies). I like that because they don’t all make the right hearing aid for everyone. I spend a lot more time keeping up with technology than they do, but it’s worth it. Here are some examples of hearing aids and why I might choose them.

Some people won’t wear hearing aids because they think it makes them look old. So, I can choose Phonak Titanium or Signia Styletto. Some work in an environment with lots of people and noise. So I have Oticon OPN S. Some people need rechargeable batteries. So I have a lot of options, but usually I think ReSound Quatro. I have people with deafness on one side and might try a CROS hearing aid. I’ve been trying Signia Nx for that lately. I have people with profound hearing loss and I’ll usually choose Oticon Exceed. Some people need to answer their Android phone, hands free, so I get Phonak Marvel. Starkey Livio Ai has fall detection, heart rate monitoring, and language translation. Widex Evoke has a great tinnitus masker.

I can also change manufacturers for things like earmolds. I’ve switched between companies like Westone, Starkey, ReSound, Oticon, Emtec, and Microsonic because quality can vary over time. They also have their own specialty. Microsonic is excellent at children’s earmolds and Westone is great at musician’s monitors.

Also, I’m an audiologist. They are usually hearing aid dispensers. While I’ve met dispensers that are stellar and audiologists that aren’t, audiologists have an advantage of graduate school education. The focus is different. Audiologists are trained to think of treating hearing loss, and that includes more than hearing aids. Sometimes it doesn’t include a hearing aid at all. A liberal education teaches more than how to do something. They teach why. So when you get unexpected results, you have half a chance of figuring out the why and how to fix it.

A few random things that come to mind: I take insurance and I work for free in Starkey’s Hear Now program. Costco’s ReSound hearing aids are locked – meaning only Costco can program or fine tune them. And, finally, I hope you enjoy this video, because it circles back to my first example of patients who think hearing aids make them look old.

Which Hearing Aid is the Best?

I get asked this question a lot. I see Consumer Report testing and audiologist Youtube videos that rank the hearing aid manufacturers. My answer is, For who? The best hearing aid manufacturer depends on who it’s for. There’s a problem with ranking manufacturers because it’s not a toaster we’re talking about here. I will say that there are a lot of excellent manufacturers that I work with. There is a lot of competition between them. They all have a specialty they focus on from year to year. They generally come out with something significantly improved every 5 years or so.

Call me if you’re wondering which manufacturer would be best for you and why. I’m big on education. 905-881-2620

Here’s a little homework though:
1) Read Consumer Reports’ buying guide .
2) Check out the major manufacturers listed below.

Oticon
ReSound
Phonak
Signia (Siemens)
Starkey
Widex