Consumer Reports, a well known source for product reviews and evaluations, published a Consumer Reports hearing aids report in their July, 2009 issue. The report, called "Hear Well in a Noisy World" revealed some interesting facts regarding hearing health and the hearing aid fitting process.
According to the report, "When we [CR] set out to test hearing aids, we encountered the same challenges that hearing aid shoppers face every day." And it's these challenges that prevent many people who would benefit from a pair of hearing aids from making that appointment with an audiologist or hearing aid practitioner.
In addition to hearing aid, the report discusses protecting hearing and the use of hearing protection devices.
Some of the more interesting findings?
High prices. Consumer Reports found that their survey respondents spent on average between $1800 - $6800 for a pair of hearing aids in the New York City metro area, which included the professional fitting and follow-up services.
Yes hearing aids are expensive. However, they improve the quality of life by giving you back something you've lost - the ability to hear rain hitting the trees, birds twittering at the feeder and the sound a new grandchild makes when you pick her up.
Mediocre Fittings. The second challenge faced by the 1,100 people CR followed in compiling its data on hearing aids. The magazine reports that 66% of hearing aids were not tuned properly for the hearing needs of the hearing aid wearer.
Lack of information. CR indicates that 25% of those 1,100 hearing aid wearers didn't know whether their hearing aids came with automated feedback suppression - a feature basic to the most basic quality hearing aids. That's one-quarter of all hearing aid buyers - all of whom plunked down a wad of cash for those hearing aids.
Overall 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.
Choosing a Good Hearing Health Professional Is the Key
Chances are you'll purchase hearing aids from a dispensing audiologist or from a licensed hearing aid practitioner (the only other alternative is purchasing on the internet from an unknown person).
In either case Consumer Reports believes choosing a good hearing professional is the first step to a successful and positive experience with hearing aids.
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
Give Your Ears a Chance
Real good point from Consumer Reports. Nothing - no hearing aid - is going to restore hearing to "normal, but they will improve your ability to hear. And considering nearly 73% of Consumer Reports respondants are highly satisfied with their hearing aids, they must be doing something good.
The first step towards better hearing is to have your hearing tested. From their the audiologist or hearing aid practitioner will recommend the best hearing aids for you if you do in fact have hearing loss and are a hearing aid candidate.
To learn more about the Consumer Reports report on hearing aids, how to ensure a successful experience with hearing aids and the use of hearing protection to protect your hearing visit: Consumer Reports and Hearing Aids: Hearing Well in a Noisy World.