Please Tell Me About Hearing Aids

chisue

Yesterday I had an "audiological evaluation" at Costco -- and I have the chart of my performance to prove it! My ears are almost equally limited in the 'frequency' range ("Mild' to 'Severe' hearing loss), but I scored 100% on the 'word recognition' test. (You repeat two-syllable words.) I know *nothing* about hearing aids, so am turning to the KT for input before buying a pair.

Costco offers three different pairs of aids. One is branded Kirkland Signature 9.0, made by Phonak ($1500). One is Philips HearLink ($2500). One is ReSound, Preza or Vida models ($2500). The Kirkland uses disposable batteries (48 for $9), that last 5 - 7 days. The other two use rechargeable batteries ($250 for the charger). They all look alike, a bean-shaped 'works' with two control switches that goes behind the ear, and a wire leading to a teeny microphone in the ear.

Costco is ordering all three and will 'program' them for my particular hearing loss. I'm to try them Sept. 20. They all have 5 year warranties , and can be returned within 180 days.

Does anyone have personal experience with hearing aids? I think I'd try the Kirkland first, unless I hear a big difference between it and the others. (Cheaper, and I am able to replace the tiny batteries without difficulty.)

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Annie Deighnaugh

DH got his hearing aids at costco and he's very happy with them. Everyone we talked to said get them there. They are wonderful about providing the exterior parts for free and are very helpful.

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schoolhouse_gwagain

Most people I know who have hearing aides have a difficult time with them. Either not being able to hear with them and constantly having them adjusted or plain can't get used to the buzzes and beeps and battery changes. I do think it takes a long time to get them adjusted, maybe most people give up.

Those Costco aids are at a great price. My aunts paid up to $5000 for theirs!

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lindaohnowga

Are those prices for just "one" hearing aid or for a set of two, one for each ear? My husband ordered his two aids but I don't remember the name of the company. We can get the little replacement batteries at our pharmacy.

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rob333 (zone 7a)

Guess what I just found out? My mom lost one hearing aid, but used to wear two. If we can find the other? They can reprogram it for the ear she continues to wear.

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Elmer J Fudd

If I were in your shoes, I think I'd get a second opinion before moving forward. Perhaps with an audiologist working at a nearby, well-regarded medical practice.

It could be just me but I wouldn't think Costco would attract the best and brightest of any profession. I know, the machine does the work, but this would be like driving into a car dealership and asking if your not-new car should be replaced. Costco's hearing business is to sell hearing aids. not give medical advice.

Good luck.

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greenshoekitty

got mine from Costco 4 or 5 years ago. They work well, and at 1500 for the pair they were half what the other places I went to cost.

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roy4me

I have had hearing aids from Costco and the service was great.

However I decided to go to an audiologist and got hearing aids.

Much happier with the aids and the service is outstanding.

I second getting a second opinion from an audiologist



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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

Hearing seems too important to entrust to Costco. I would want more options and more expertise. There have been so many advances made in this field over the last decade, not worth scrimping here if you can afford not to.

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Dragonfly8

Chisue

Both my husband and I are very happy with our Kirkland Brand hearing aids from Costco. They come as a pair vs the other brands are priced each which works if you just need one. Kirkland brand doesn't sell just the one so I have the pair even though 'technically' I only need one but I do like the sense of balance they provide.

Six months to trial the Costco aids is very generous vs the 30 days through most audiologist's offices. You get to experience lots of very different exposures to various scenarios in 6 months. (for us, the trial before purchasing allowed you to walk around in the store. . . which is a warehouse and a bit hard to hear in anyway)

In our case, the name brands (ReSound for one) from the audiologist's office (at a university medical center) were the same as at Costco, although much less expensive.

I find the newer in-the-ear type are very difficult to detect and you can choose a color that would blend in with your hair color. Look, or don't look, way better than walking around with earbuds. Most people I meet have no idea that I am wearing hearing aids.

They are insured for loss and damage. You get a free hearing test every year. Of course, you can always continue to be tested by your ENT if that is important to you.

As Annie says, they are great at helping you out if you have a concern. We have had the end caps (?) part that goes into your ear replaced no charge. They recommend every 6 months unless you have heavy ear wax issues.

They will continue to work with you to add programs or adjustments so that it works for you. I have been very pleased vs when I had one through an audiologist's office which charged me for each visit and in that case it never really worked well for the money. That was about 10 years ago and the technology has changed big time. Note: my Costco hearing aids were less expensive than the one hearing aid I got 10 years ago that never really felt good.

The batteries are really very inexpensive at Costco vs buying them at regular stores. We travel so the idea of having to charge them was not of interest to us. Having a pack of batteries in our pocket works the best for us. Usually, I find that I change them once a week, unless I am using them a bit more for the audio benefit (see below). In that case I just pick two days that I change them in the morning before I start. There is not a lot of time before you hear the warning sign of low battery and the sound going out so I just change them regularly.

One thing I love about the hearing aids is that you can sync it to your iPhone so when you get a call, it rings in your ears and you don't need an earbud to have a conversation although you do need to speak into the phone. I also love the fact that I can have my music or a podcast going through the hearing aid and no one knows it! Works great at the gym or out walking without those ear buds sticking out of my ears. I can adjust the level according to how noisy it is at a restaurant or event through the phone app.

They also sell an item that allows you to hear your tv through the hearing aid vs cranking up the volume on the set. Haven't purchased it yet but looking into it. I think it would help with the volume from action movies my husband enjoys.

In our case, we had testing done with an audiologist through our ENT because we have special medical issues. But once we saw the prices of the aids through them and researched the Costco brands, there was no question. Costco does have you sign a form, which you might have done when they ordered the aids, that states you are aware that you are choosing not to go with a medically trained professional opinion.

Best thing we ever did. I believe the markup for something a lot of people need is one of the reasons why it takes a person, on average 5-8 years to finally do something about their hearing loss. Costco has seen the need and buys in bulk so you have a big cost savings. Best of luck to you.

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Yayagal

I have severe hearing loss and have been "legally deaf" since forever. I have to have the Resounds in both ears. I haven't known of a category of mild to severe, the readings are usually mild to moderate, moderate to severe and legally deaf. Considering your budget and your ability to hear clearly, I would go with the one that is the most concealed on the ear. I have to wear a big pack behind both ears and the aid is visible. So I would say price and how you appear would be the priority of your choice. I go to audiology in Mass. General and have the best dr. but that's because of my condition. I think, from what you posted, that you can do anyone of the three choices. Being Scottish and, if I were as lucky as you, I'd go for the lowest price with the best performance.

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Anglophilia

Several people at my pulmonary rehab have hearing aids and they all got them at Costco. Apparently Costco does a HUGE business and has the best prices and great customer service. As to how good an audiologist is...well, who knows.


I do know that the one who is a part of my ENT doctor's practice is actually an independent contractor that just rents space in his office. He insisted I get a "baseline" test done a few years ago (don't know why I went along with this - it was expensive and insurance paid little of the cost. This woman tried to talk me into a hearing aid for one ear even though my hearing loss was minimal and I could not notice it at all. Just the one was $5000 and I politely said "no thank-you".


The next time, I was at the optician's shop to get new lenses put in my frames with the prescription from my ophthalmologist. The shop also had an audiologist business as well. He offered to test my hearing at no cost, so I agreed. Again, minimal hearing loss but oh but he had the perfect hearing aid for that one ear - this one was over $5000.


I have to admit that they both seemed sort of like hucksters. If the time comes that I need hearing testing and aids, I think I'll go to Costco.


No one I know is really very happy with their hearing aids and that includes my late father and people I know outside of pulmonary rehab. They have all paid a fortune for them, and the technology has yet to overcome hearing way too much background noise.


I like the Mayo Clinic web site for hearing aid information. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hearing-loss/in-depth/hearing-aids/art-20044116 I think it is the most realistic advice as it states that no hearing aid at any price will restore your normal hearing. Improve, but not restore. A bitter pill to swallow... And it stresses that it will take time and some experimentation to get the right one for each person.

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chisue

I KNEW the KT would come through for me! Thank you all.

I had just had testing done at my ENT (15 months ago) when I had my diagnosis of multiple myeloma and had to put this on hold. I don't have any medical problems other than a malformed right ear canal that requires a tube to keep fluid from accumulating. I know I need hearing aids.

I found the exam yesterday to be quite thorough (90 minutes). I was a little surprised that I was only offered these behind-the-ear type aids. I *think* it's because I didn't say I wanted the 'invisible' ones. I suspect these have more adjustable programming, but don't know that. Maybe these are cheaper, too. -- In-the-ear would be nice, but I suppose is more involved...a 'mold' has to be made?

Today I found a video about the need to have aids adequately programmed -- not just go with the software programming a manufacturer will put into a pair. This involves a 'feedback' process that the fitter employs to fine-tune the aids -- adjusting them to most accurately compensate for your deficiencies, using a chart on a computer screen. Did any of you have that process when you were fitted?

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Elmer J Fudd

I knew you'd be on top of it. I'd still get an updated second opinion.

A different Costco experience that may or may not be applicable. Last year, my wife decided to get a pair of prescription glasses from Costco, as a "cheap backup" for her rather expensive frameless glasses. After going to a few different Costcos, she found a reasonably acceptable frame and went ahead. When she picked up the finished product, the lenses weren't quite right (because of the placement of the progressive transition). This can probably happen anywhere. They cheerfully offered to redo the lenses. That was done, they were better, but still not on par with her "better" pair. I went along when she went back to speak to the optician about what more could be done. His response, not in these exact words, was "Probably nothing more. Our goal is to provide a product of reasonable quality at a lower price than can be found at most other sources. You have top quality frames and lenses and what we have won't be as good." She kept the Costco pair and never wears them so it was a wasted effort.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

Chisue, that is the process a friend of mine goes through, plus he spends for a yearly software update. His aids are tiny.

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Zalco/bring back Sophie!

PS Might be a yearly licensing fee, not software update.

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patriciae_gw

I am going to have to go this road before too much longer. I have had hearing issues for years-thoroughly tested by a specialist but they were not pushing trying to fix it at that time. Mine is variable-comes as goes as a result of Meniere's. My hearing is getting to the point that it annoys others (who have to repeat themselves) I dread going through the learning curve. I wonder how the over the ear works when you wear glasses. I cant bear the least pressure in or on my ears. It causes me intense pain. I am sure I could not wear the internal ones.

Chisue, has your treatment affected your hearing? I know it can affect vision

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chessey35

Our medical insurance paid a portion of my DH's - I'd check and see if your insurance will cover anything and then if Costco accepts the insurance.

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phoggie

Does the Costco aids come with rechargeable batteries? With my tremor, there is no way I could get the batteries in....but I think I might some before long .

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watchmelol

I am profoundly deaf in one ear. It was only recently that my current Otologist suggested I may be able to be helped "somewhat " with an aid in that side. Generally that side would be considered for a cochlear implant but I failed the standards because my word recognition is too good. Because of my lifestyle my new Otologist said he would actually personally recommend against a cochlear implant for me at this stage. I have Meniere's and balance issues enough and like knee replacement surgeries you only hear of the successes and seldom about the failure of which there are many.


My other ear is severely deafened and I wear an aid on that side. I was told right from the start that no way could any aid without a custom ear mold help me. I wear a behind the ear Phonak with an ear mold on that side.


A good audiologist is worth their weight in gold. Hearing aids need to be programmed and even at their best they don't work like eyeglasses. You get better hearing with them. The better varies from individual to individual depending on the level and type of loss.


Bottom line one should go to a good ENT and or Otologist who works with a great audiologist. Depending on your loss and what they recommend Costco may or may not work for you. What you get in savings may or not work depending on how important service and adjustments are to you or for your level of hearing loss. I have been shifted over to the cochlear side of hearing care due to my quest and my new doctor that replaced the one i had who retired. After my even more extensive tasting for the potential cochlear implant the audiologist was able to identify more minuet issues and readjust my current hearing aid to perform even better for me.


I also have hyperacusis and recruitment to add to the mix. So my ability to hear and function is a hot mess.


For me my hearing team of doctor and audiology dept. is far too important to try to save dollars. I suppose if I chose to live life sitting at home and cooking, sewing and crafting I may have a different outlook. But I'm not ready for that at this point in my life. My life is about an active lifestyle with grand kids and horseback riding. I took up the latter because when i went suddenly deaf I had to give up so many other things I enjoyed. One of the reasons I explored the possibility of a cochlear implant. It's triple difficult to learn a new skill when you can't hear well. Hearing loss isn't about sound nor loudness. It's about processing the sounds you hear.


We have had excellent service from Costco in the eye wear dept. But eye wear is different. Either the prescription is followed to a T or it isn't . Not so with hearing aids for anyone who would fall into the truly deafened categories.


Rechargeable hearing aids

are still pretty new. This video is pretty informative on the Phonak but also hits on the pros and cons.

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jemdandy

Do not expect hearing aids to enhance listening to music. The tiny parts that make sound are simply too small to replicate low frequency sounds. Those do fairly well for speech over the range of 200 to 1500 hz. I have about half of my hearing left and I prefer to listen to music without my hearing aids. There are lots of enjoyable sounds in music in the range of 50 to 250 hz and that part will be missing with hearing aids.

I also have a another damage problem with one of my ears in that I hear sound, but do not decode spoken words properly or too slowly. Its damage from diabetes and age and will not be cured with hearing aids.

The other effect I found with hearing aids is that echolocation is greatly reduced (can't discern the location of a sound). I find that loss almost as debilitating as the hearing loss. At one time, my echolocation was very good and I did not realize how much I used it.

Before you decide what to buy, look at offerings from Sam's Club. They have models in the price range you mentioned for Costco and a lower priced one that may work for you. I have a pair of 16 channel hearing aids from Sam's priced at about $1000 per unit ($2000 per pair). These are the lowest priced ones from Sam's that includes a telecoil.

(There exists telephones equipped with magnetic fields that will couple with the telecoil in your hearing aid which will then transmit the phone sound directly into your ear. This works much better than holding the phone to the microphone in the hearing aid. The sound quality is much better. Of course, you do have to cycle the program switch on the hearing aid to activate the telecoil function. After you are through using the phone, don't forget to cycle the program back to its normal hearing function. The telecoil fucntion puts an extra load on the cell and will cause it to drain sooner than normal.)

Channel was mentioned. Quality hearing aids divides the sound spectrum into bands (channels) and the amplification of each channel is adjusted according the audiogram that was made during the hearing test. Regions of low hearing gets more amplification than regions of better hearing. An audiogram was made for each ear and the left and right aid gets a custom amplification program for the ear it will serve. Therefore, hearing aids are not hi-fidelity devices, but are devices that try to level out your hearing over a frequency band by boosting the areas where your hearing is low. Hearing aids are available with differing number of channels (bands). Common number of bands are 8, 12, 16, 24, 32, and 64. Cost increases with the number of bands. Eight bands is probably too low and there won't be much improvement above 16 bands. Sixteen bands appear to be the sweet spot between the number of bands and cost.

Service after the sale: These are an important items both from a cost and availability standpoint. My first pair of hearing aids were lower cost units offered by my health insurance. These were about $630 per hearing aid and seemed a bargain until service was needed. These aids were purchased from afar, not locally and that should have been a red flag. to get these, I had to get my hearing tested, get a copy of the audiogram plots and transmit these to Minneapolis either by mail or a picture file over the internet. When my aids arrived, I was satisfied with those at first, and then, 6 months later I discovered a weakness. The detents on the battery door became feeble and worthless. It was a poor design. I live near a large city and expected to find a place for service - there was none, only sales offices. I found that I needed to send the aids back to Minneapolis for repair. This required two shipping trips plus the time at the repair center - I estimated the time without these aids would be 2 weeks and I did not have any idea of the cost. This prompted me to begin a search for different set of aids.

I have had the hearing aids from Sam's for about 3 years. During that time, one battery door has been replaced, the units cleaned and inspected, a lost microphone cover replaced, a new audiogram made and the aids re-programed for changes in my hearing, at no cost.

Microphones: My hearing aids are behind-the-ear (BTE) type and each unit has 2 microphones; one on top and the second at one end. This placement helps to gather sound that might be attenuated. I also wear glasses and my glasses and these aids have coexisted.

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functionthenlook

My husband wears hearing aids. Hint - buy several packages of hearing aids. Keep a pkg in each car, travel kit, and in your purse. The batteries don't always go dead when you are at home. He gets his from amazon.

The two things that bother him is the wind like driving with the window open and high pitch sounds like little girls screams while playing.

His cost 4K and insurace paid half.


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nickel_kg

Thanks for the good detailed info here, especially from jemdandy. DH and/or I will need them someday. Already he says "LOOK at me when you're speaking" ... and I have to ask him to repeat himself too.

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chisue

If 'The Wisdom of Crowds' depends on the crowds, the crowd at the KT is the best!

All of the three brands of behind-the-ear aids offered to me at Costco have 5-year warranties for parts and service, including re-programming. The cheapest is made in Vietnam; the other two, in Switzerland and Denmark. They are all sold in pairs.

Costco's Kirkland Signature 9.0 aids ($1500) have non-rechargeable batteries, but batteries are cheap (48 for $9), and I'm still dexterous. The audiologist in the video I saw was dumbfounded that there's no charger and was sorry they'd eliminated the telecoil. (This has to be price constraints, but I'm not sure I'd miss either thing.)

The other two brands sold by Costco ($2500 per pair) are rechargeable ($250 additional for the charger) and do have telecoils. One is made in Switzerland and one in Denmark.

I so 'unconnected' (low-tech) that I don't know if I need telecoils. I don't listen to music or audiobooks (currently), and I can hear fine (currently) when using my cellphone. I need captions for TV though. Will I be a thousand dollars sorry not to have the telecoil?

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wantoretire_did

Phoggie, my DH has had essential tremor for years which has gotten progressively worse over time. However, he has the tiny batteries in hid aids and changes them himself, usually over the kitchen table just in case.

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chisue

BTW, does anyone successfully remove earwax at home?

Two years ago DH went for a hearing test and was turned away because of earwax. He's since had that cleaned at our ENT's office and at CVS minute clinic. I think he needs it again, but wonder if there's a routine to use to prevent buildup.

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Elmer J Fudd

"does anyone successfully remove earwax at home?"

Yes. I do.

With wooden stick Qtips, every other day or so, in the morning after I shower. And occasionally first dipped in rubbing alcohol with a dry ear. I've never had a clog or a problem, It's been my habit since I was a teenager.

Doing so does have some controversy and isn't recommended. BUT - once on a visit to an ENT doctor, he commented "Your ears are quite clean. Do you use Qtips?"

I said "Yes, is that okay?"

He said "No, but I do it too. Be careful not to press it in, use pressure only on the sides".

The latest versions of this product (CVS brand or purchased on Amazon) have flimsy sticks and can break, so that takes some care.

There are OTC liquid products too.

I'm not recommending anything. If you have a problem, see a medical doctor.




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patriceny

I do the exact same thing as Elmer. I know it's highly controversial, although honestly I'm not 100% sure why. I understand that no one should ever attempt to do this to someone else (or heaven forbid on a baby or small child!) - but I'm careful and I have never caused a problem cleaning my own ears with Qtips. I also am told by doctors my ears are extremely clean.

It seems the current conventional wisdom is "nothing smaller than your elbow gets put in your ear" - but speaking only for me, I prefer cleaning my own ears after a shower every morning.

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chisue

Thanks for the ear cleaning stories. I do have to wonder if perhaps Elmer and Patriceny just don't *make* ear wax. I don't -- up to age 78 anyway.

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Elmer J Fudd

I remember hearing that some people produce more, some less, but I don't know for sure.

I don't know how much wax is a lot or a little but my ears do produce wax. If I'm away from home for a few days and I've forgotten to bring cotton swabs, no problem, but there's usually a fair amount to remove when I have them available again. For foreign travel, when I can't be sure if replacements can be found, I use a checklist for toiletries and I check and double check that I have an adequate supply packed.

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jemdandy

About telecoils in hearing aids:

This is fine feature, but it has been my experience that you won't get to use it very much in public places. Its greatest use will be with your home phone provided it is equipped for telecoil use. I have been to a local movie theater that purportedly had a broadcast loop in their auditorium and have viewed 3 movies there but the telecoil function went missing. Maybe I needed to make arrangements beforehand to have it turned on.

Once in 3 years, I did get to experience my telecoils in action and it was great! It was in a lecture hall at a public library where an Author spoke at his book signing event. The 'broadcast loop' was active and when he spoke into the microphone, his words came through loud and clear. It made an amazing difference. The effect was very different also. It sounded as though the speaker was right at the back of my shirt collar, not up front at the podium.

A few churches may be equipped with a telecoil loop, but it must be activated to be of any use. It seems that many public places so equipped are defaulted to an off state.

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chisue

Jem -- If I don't have aids with telecoil, will I be able to hear the same (or better) than I do now when using a cell phone? Can I expect to use hearing aids the same as I do my glasses -- putting them on in the morning and removing them at night, without fiddling around with them? Will I hear everything the same as I hear someone talking to me, including sound from radio, TV, or in a theater, or is 'amplified sound' different?

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