In July 2009 Consumer Reports, a well known source for unbiased product reviews and evaluations, published an article covering hearing health which included: hearing aids, hearing protection and more. The article, called “Hear Well in a Noisy World” revealed some interesting and startling facts about hearing health.
Consumer Reports did not evaluate hearing aids by brand and model specifically. Instead, they evaluated the overall process a person with hearing loss goes through when being fit with hearing aids.
After following a dozen actual hearing aid patients as they shopped for and used hearing aids and surveying 1100 people who had purchased hearing aids within the last three years and lab tested 44 hearing aids, Consumer Reports found the following information that is worthy to hearing aid consumers:
- Hearing aids are expensive; however they do improve the quality of life for those who wear them.
- The magazine reports that of the 48 hearing aids tested by audiologists in the laboratory, two-thirds were not tuned properly for the hearing needs of the hearing aid wearer. – revealing many consumers are getting mediocre fittings
- Many hearing aid consumers lack information: a fourth of those 1,100 hearing aid wearers surveyed didn’t know whether their hearing aids came with automated feedback suppression and a third didn’t know if their hearing aids had directional microphones – both features that have become standard in even the most basic hearing aids due to their proven performance.
- Many hearing aid wearers are Satisfied: Despite some of these negative findings, Consumer Reports found a positive one – nearly 73% of respondents are “highly satisfied with their aids”. This finding supports various research studies that have shown treating hearing loss with hearing aids improves quality of life and overall satisfaction for everyday communication abilities.
To ensure a successful fitting with hearing aids, finding a good hearing care professional is key. So how does one go about choosing a “good” provider? Here are some options to go about this critical first-step:
- Discuss with friends & family members who wear hearing aids. If they are happy with a hearing professional in your area, you may be too.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau
- Contact the state professional organization or visit their website.
- Once you have found a professional, check with your state to ensure the audiologist’s or hearing aid practitioner’s license is current and if they have had any formal complaints
Consumer Reports also recommends:
- Ensure the professionals’ location and hours are convenient for you
- Ask if the professional has walk-in hours if they are by appointment only
- Ask the professional if they host a hearing-rehabilitation group or support services after you purchase hearing aids through them
To learn more about the Consumer Report article and how to ensure a successful hearing aid fitting visit: Consumer Reports and Hearing Aids: Hearing Well in a Noisy World