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How to Buy a Hearing Aid Online Guide
Buying hearing aids at a local hearing aid place can set you back as much as $6,000 a pair and on top of that hearing aids only last about three to five years. In this economy, retired or not retired, that is a lot of money - that's more money than most people can afford. What's more, shelling out $6000 every three to fives years is a daunting financial expense to think about - and three years goes by fast.
Think about all the activities your are still involved in; family, kids, grandkids, friends, work -(67 percent jump in Americans working past age 65 in the past decade) , sports, food and drinks and travel. Every activity involves being able to hear well to really enjoy yourself -- and even for those kids or grandkids to be safe when you are out with them. If you really need hearing aids, do you think your family would want you to go without them? So you can enjoy your time with your grandkids, family, friends? The good news is there are effective and affordable ways to manage hearing loss. Hearing Aids don't have to drain your bank account, and you don't have to go with out because they are too expensive. You don't have to stop you from doing the things you love or enjoying the company of people you love.
Most, not all, Hearing Aids from Hearing Aids By Mail or Hearing Aids Online Sellers offer the same digital technology and features of a $2000+ hearing aid - for 50% to 75% less. How is this possible?
Local hearing aid sellers serve a local audience so they have to charge higher prices per customer to cover those costs (for example, if they see 1,000 patients a year they pass along fixed costs/1,000 to patients). Century Hearing Aids is an online only store with much lower expenses. We make smaller profits per unit sold because we have access to such a huge market (8 million US customers) and, we can make it up in volume sales. It’s a win for the budget conscious shopper.
Hearing Aid Styles
OPEN FIT Hearing Aids
Open Fit Hearing Aids are a new type of Behind the Ear Hearing Aid. It is also called the mini Behind the Ear aid. It fits behind the ear, but is smaller. A very thin, almost invisible tube is used to connect the aid to the ear canal. Open Fit Hearing Aids have less of a occlusion or "plugged up" sensations in the ear canal, allow for increased comfort, reduce feedback and address cosmetic concerns for many users. Open Fit Hearing Aids are designed to hide behind the outer ear, and have ultra-thin tubing to discreetly route sound into the ear. The tubing connects to a soft tip that sits in the ear canal but doesn’t occlude it. The result is a natural, open feeling as airflow and sound enter the ear naturally around the tip, while amplified sound enters through the tip. This is known as “open fitting” and is recommended for mild to moderate high frequency losses.
Open Fit Hearing Aid Pros:
Open Fit Hearing Aid Cons:
- Great for high frequency losses due to their "open fit" ability (they don't plug you up)
- More reliable than In the Ear Hearing Aids in some cases, because the circuitry is out of the ear
- Not easily visible, especially from the front
- Comfortable and barely visible
- No earmold, so less plugged-up feeling
- May not be suitable for more than a mild or moderate hearing loss in the low frequencies
- Some models do not have manual controls in order to build the hearing aids smaller
- Might not need a telecoil
- Sweat might cause malfunction
- Limited manual control
In the Ear" Hearing Aids
In the Ear Hearing Aids sit in the lower portion of the outer ear bowl, making them comfortable and easy to use. All parts of the hearing aid are contained in a shell that fills in the outer part of the ear. In-the-Ear Hearing Aids are larger than the Completely-In-the-Canal Hearing Aids, and for some people may be easier to handle than smaller aids. These tiny hearing aids are made for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
In the Ear Hearing Aid Pros:
In the Ear Hearing Aid Cons:
- Small and discreet for cosmetic purposes
- Efficient in delivery of high frequencies. (Outer ear collects and focuses high frequency sound waves to the opening of the ear canal).
- You may be able to use a telephone or headsets normally, because the aid is recessed in the ear.
- Sound can be reproduced without driving the speaker into distortion, as speaker is near the eardrum
- Not appropriate for severe to profound hearing losses. (Not enough power without having feedback)
- Not appropriate for high frequency (ski-slope) type hearing loss. (Too much occlusion)
- Not suggested for children, as their ears grow too fast.
- Difficult to use and operate for persons with dexterity or eyesight problems. (Small size and battery)
- In the Canal hearing aids have the highest repair rate compared to other hearing aid types.
- Can't have a larger vent opening than a Completely in the canal
- Can't utilize more advanced circuitry because of less room for components.
- Short battery life
- Too small for directional microphone
- Ear might feel plugged up unless aid is vented.
- Vulnerable to wax and moisture.
- May not fit well in smaller ears
Behind the Ear Hearing Aids
Behind the Ear Hearing Aids are longer in shape, sit behind or on top of the outer ear (following the contour behind the outer ear) and have a tubing that routes sounds down into the ear to an ear tip or earmold in the ear canal. Behind the Ear Hearing Aids can be used with an earmold and come in different colors and style. Most parts are contained in a small plastic case that rests behind the ear; the case is connected to an earmold or an earpiece by a piece of clear tubing. They can generally can house more features, controls, and power than custom models. Also, the Behind the Ear Hearing aids are easy to be cleaned and handled, and are relatively sturdy.
Behind the Ear Hearing Aid Pros:
Behind the Ear Hearing Aid Cons:
- The hearing aid fits over and behind the ear, so there is a great amount of flexibility as to what size or type of ear-mold fits in the ear or ear canal.
- Earmolds can be made of hard or soft materials, can be modified or changed at will and for less expense that remaking the shell of a an in the ear type aid.
- Can be used for severe and profound hearing losses, as the microphone is further from ear canal and feedback is less likely.
- They are sometimes less expensive than in the ear type aids.
- More options can be selected, such as connections for assistive listening devices, and more recently, attachments for blue tooth technology.
- Wide selection of case colors can be used to blend with hair color.
- Larger controls and battery sizes are available.
- Behind the Ears are more visible for those without much hair.
- Behind the Ears can be more inconvenient for physically active people.
- Behind the Ears are more susceptible to moisture and perspiration damage.
- Plugged-up feeling from earmold unless vented.
Hearing Aid Features - The BEST FEATURES
Consumer Reports reported, "Our laboratory tests didn't compare brands, but we did evaluate features. Among the most useful were the directional microphone and telecoil."
Most older hearing aids have only an omni-directional microphone. An omni-directional microphone amplifies sounds equally from all directions. In contrast, a directional microphone amplifies sounds from in front more than sounds from other directions. This means that sounds originating from the direction the listener is facing are amplified more than sounds from behind or in other directions. If the speech is in front of the listener and the noise is from a different direction, then compared to an omni-directional microphone, a directional microphone provides a better signal to noise ratio. Improving the signal to noise ratio improves speech understanding in noise. Directional microphones is one of the best methods to improve the signal to noise ratio.
Some new hearing aids now have both an omni-directional and a directional microphone. This is because speech often comes from directions other than in front of the listener. Usually, the omni-directional microphone mode is used in quiet listening situations (e.g. living room) whereas the directional microphone is used in noisy listening situations (e.g. restaurant). The microphone mode is typically selected by using a switch. Some hearing aids automatically switch the microphone mode.
Adaptive Directional microphones vary the direction of maximum amplification.
The direction of amplification is varied by the hearing aid processor. The processor attempts to provide maximum amplification in the direction of the speech signal. Unless the user manually temporarily switches to a "restaurant program, forward only mode" adaptive directional microphones have a disadvantage of amplifying speech of other talkers in a restaurant. This makes it difficult for the processor to select the desired speech signal. Another disadvantage is that noise often mimics speech characteristics, making it difficult to separate the speech from the noise. Despite the disadvantages, adaptive directional microphones can provide improved speech recognition in noise. Directional microphones only provide benefit when the distance to the talker is small.
How Directional Microphones Work
This is an example of how directional microphones work...
By "directing" the microphone to the sounds you want to hear, It minimizes background noises you do not want to hear -offering a much better experience in noisy -restaurant places.
T coils - or Telecoils
A useful feature available on many hearing aids today is called the "telecoil" or commonly referred to as T coils. Telecoils have existed within hearing aids since the late 1940s.
The most common use of the telecoil is with the telephone. Although most modern hearing aids are designed to minimize feedback, hearing aids are susceptible to interference from other electrical energy sources and will create feedback like an annoying "buzz" or "hum". For example - digital cell phones, cell phone transmitting towers, some cordless telephones, close proximity to AM-FM radio stations, burglar alarms and motion detectors, electrical shavers, fluorescent lights, computer monitors and other electronic equipment, large TVs, light dimmer switches, fax machines, garage door openers, and other devices can create this annoying "buzz" or "hum" in your hearing aid.
The Telecoil works by detecting and converting magnetic energy into electrical energy in much the same way that a microphone converts acoustic energy into electrical energy. The Telecoil receiver serves essentially the same purpose as the microphone.
When the Telecoil is turned on it allows for much clearer hearing without feedback. Telecoil are beneficial and they may represent the only consistent and reliable option for successful telephone use -- and the Telecoil shuts out other background noises.
What is another new use for a Telecoil? Meetings or Churches or concerts...or at home. Some places like church or meeting halls or concerts will have a "loop" installed. Meaning, a wire (telephone like) will run around the room, either at the floor or the ceiling, exposed or concealed. The wire creates a circle or loop that joins itself, and plugs into an output plug on the PA system box.
When anything is said into the microphone -- from the speaker, it sends the sound to the loudspeakers but also through the "loop," creating a magnetic induction field within the loop. This means that anyone in the room within the loop with their Telecoils on will be able to hear clearly all that is said into the mic...sometimes even better than people with normal hearing.
Hearing Aid Bands and Channels - What is the Difference?
What is the difference between a Hearing aid Band and Hearing Aid Channel? And how many Hearing Aid channels do you actually need to help you hear better? Some new hearing aids can come with 24 channels or more… and have a price tag of $2000 to $3000 per aid. And one might assume that more channels or bands will equate to better performance or more benefit. But is that actually true?
Starkey, a hear aid manufacturer, did a study involving 1,156 audiograms. Their goal was to determine how many independent channels were needed to maximize speech audibility or clarity. Their initial assumption was that a well-designed hearing aid is designed to maximize sound quality and speech understanding - and this was measured by how sharp or clear words sounded to a hearing aid wearer. The results of the study will surprise you. They found that the most significant improvement occurred within the first four channels. In other words, the greatest improvements were seen in people moving from one channel to two, two channels to three, or three channels to four. Some improvements were also seen moving from five to six channels, but it was such a small improvement that is was considered to be statistically insignificant. Beyond six channels they were unable to show any improvement in how clear the words word at all. So don't waste your money on hearing aids with more than 6 channels.
Your Audiogram and Hearing Aids Online vs Local Companies
Providers and health insurers who comply with HIPPA are required to provide your medical records - including audiograms.
In most cases, your copies must be given to you within 30 days, but this can be extended for another 30 days if you are given a reason.
You may have to pay for the cost of copying and mailing if you request copies and mailing.
Who must follow this law?
Most doctors, audiologists, nurses, pharmacies, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and many other health care providers Health insurance companies, HMOs, most employer group health plans
Important note- Most Audiologists will not give you the audiograms - (because they know if you leave the audiogram, so is does the sale.
The only problem with Audiologists follow HIPPA rules are - there is no law in place to force them turn it over
For more information This is a brief summary of your rights and protections under the federal health information privacy law. You can ask your provider or health insurer questions about how your health information is used or shared and about your rights. You also can learn more, including how to file a complaint with the U.S. Government, at the website at www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/.
How to Read Your Audiogram
Buying a Hearing Aids By Mail - Hearing Aids Online its good idea to learn how to read an Audiogram. Reading an audiogram can seem pretty complex, but once you know the basics it’s really pretty simple.
First of all, you may be wondering...what is an audiogram? An audiogram is a graph that shows information about a person’s hearing abilities. An Audiogram is a hearing test that measures the softest sound you can hear. The softest level at which you can hear a sound is called the threshold.
Let’s take a look at the various parts of the audiogram. First let’s look at it from top to bottom. The audiogram measures sound intensity, or loudness, in decibels which are listed from 0 decibels at the top to 120 decibels at the bottom. Running from left to right is frequency, or pitch, which is measured in hertz. The frequency starts on the left side with 125 hertz and goes up to 8000 hertz on the right side.
Now let’s look at the frequency which runs from left to right. Vowels such as A, E, I, O and U are the lowest pitch and fall towards the left side of the hearing range. Consonants, such as S, T, F and Sh are higher pitched and fall towards the right side of the hearing range. Often times these higher frequencies are also associated with children and women’s voices.
The light blue section of the audiogram is commonly referred to as the speech zone because most human voices reside within this range of frequency and volume.
On a typical audiogram you will also see two lines: One red and one blue. The red line represents the hearing in your right ear and the blue line represents your left ear.
If your audiogram does not have colors, then the line with the X’s represent your left ear and the line with the "O's" or circles represent your right ear.
- Let’s take a moment to focus on the sound frequency which runs from top to bottom and is measured in decibels. If your hearing is normal, you should see an X or a circle that falls into the 0-20 decibel range for each frequency. That means you can understand speech in a noisy environment and no amplification or hearing aids are needed.
MILD Hearing loss
- If you have mild hearing loss you will see the X or circle in the 20-40 decibel range. Mild hearing loss means you may be having difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments. It may also mean that you require a higher volume level when watching the television or listening to the stereo. Because of this, family members are often the first to notice. Adults will benefit from In-the-Ear or Mini-Behind the Ear hearing aids.
MODERATE Hearing Loss
- Moderate hearing loss will be marked in the 40-70 decibel range. With moderate hearing loss you will frequently have difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments including the telephone, television and listening to speakers at public gatherings. You may find that you are regularly asking people to repeat themselves and you get frustrated because you are missing what they are saying. People may also tell you that you speak too loudly in conversations. Adults will see the greatest benefit from Mini-Behind the Ear hearing aids.
SEVERE Hearing Loss
- If you have severe hearing loss, the X or circle will fall in the 70-90 decibel range. This means you are having significant difficulty hearing during most types of communication and you may start avoiding noisy places where you know you will miss much of the conversation. You still may have communications difficulties with Behind the Ear hearing aids.
PROFOUND Hearing Loss
- And if your hearing loss is profound, you will see the mark in the 90-120 decibel range. At this level you are having major communication problems in all situations. Profound hearing loss typically requires visual assistance while communicating, such as lip-reading or sign language. You will still have communication difficulties with hearing aids but fullsize, super-powerful, behind the ear hearing aids will be very useful for obtaining cues and environmental sounds.
In our Audiogram example (above), you will note that this person has hearing that falls into the normal range up to about 1500 hertz. At 2000 hertz their hearing starts to make its way into the mild hearing loss category, more so for the left ear. At 4000 hertz there is a significant difference and the hearing is now in the moderate hearing loss category. At 8000 hertz this person's hearing falls into the severe hearing loss category.
DO You Need TWO HEARING AIDS OR JUST ONE?
There are seven reasons to purchase two hearing aids;
1. Two hearing aids allow you to hear what direction the sound is coming from
2. The brain processes hearing signals or competing sounds from both ears for improved clarity and a more balanced sound
3. You will get the best experience from two hearing aids
4. Less power is needed when two hearing aids are worn
5. Stereo listening gives depth perception.
6. Two ears offers better manners-one eared listeners may be considered rude.
7. Two ears hear better in noisy situations.
You will be able to hear much better with two hearing aids, and your satisfaction with the hearing aids will be much higher. If you use only one hearing aid but have hearing loss in both ears, the brain has to process two different sound and clarity levels, which makes it more difficult to obtain a clear understanding of the sound signal.
Today, about two-thirds of new purchasers opt for dual hearing aids, and as a group, they report a higher level of satisfaction than purchasers of a single aid.
Here a few advantages of two hearing aids:
- You may experience improved ability to locate origin of the sound
- You may experience greater speech understanding in noisy environments
- You may experience a reduced need for adjusting the volume of your hearing aid
If you can afford two hearing aids do it--you will have the better hearing experience all around. However, No one is forcing you to buy two hearing aids....especially if its not in the budget. If that is the case, Audiologists will fit the best ear so that you experience the most success right off the bat and are encouraged to add the other ear as you are able to afford it. One hearing aid is not optimal, but it is better than none.
Many of our customers at Century Hearing Aids start with one....if you can only afford one right now...you can buy the second one in 60 days at the discounted price--as if you are buying two in the same order.
How Long Do Hearing Aid Batteries Last?
312 batteries will last approximately 100 - 160 hours--or 6 to 7 days--that's If you take the hearing aids off before you go to bed and open the battery
10 batteries, last about 40-80 hours or 5-7 days---if you take the hearing aids off before you go to bed and open the battery door.
13 batteries, last about 230 hours or 3-4 weeks---if you take the hearing aids off before you go to bed and open the battery door.
Hot Tip: How to get your Hearing Aid Batteries to Last 80% Longer! http://www.centuryhearingaids.com/blog/8th-grader-discovers-how-to-make-hearing-aids-last-longer
Here's a list of Hearing Aid Battery Do's and Don'ts:
What about Re-Chargeable Battery Hearing Aids?
- Keep batteries out of reach of children, pets, or confused individuals.
- Do NOT put batteries in your ears, nose, or mouth. Always throw away old batteries.
- Individuals have mistaken these small batteries for medication. Please check your medication before swallowing.
- If you swallow a battery, contact your physician or call THE NATIONAL BUTTON BATTERY INGESTION HOTLINE (202) 625-3333 immediately.
- Store batteries in a cool/dry place.
- Do NOT store zinc-air batteries in a refrigerator.
- When replacing the battery, do not force battery door closed.
- Check to make sure the battery is the correct size and in the right way.
- When your hearing aid is not in use, open the battery compartment, This will save battery power and allow the hearing aid to dry overnight.
- Keep the "tab" on zinc-air batteries until you are ready to use them.
- Extra batteries should be carried in a cloth or leather pouch.
- Do NOT carry batteries loosely with other metal objects (change, keys, etc,). If metal objects rub together, it could kill the battery.
- Never dispose of batteries in a fire. They may explode.
Rechargeable Batteries - these cost around $19 per battery and come with a disclaimer - Due to the limited capacity of the rechargeable cells, rechargeable batteries on a full charge - which takes 4 to 6 hours to charge - may not last through an entire day's use - approximately 20 hours - and is not recommended for some hearing aids.
How Online Hearing Aid Companies "Fit" the Hearing Aids
Fitting is not much different than a face to face seller, there are three parts:
1. Is taking the audiogram or hearing test you have and finding the right hearing aid - from suggested fitting range of hearing aids.
2. If you decide to purchase from us...we take the audiogram and program the hearing aids according to the audiogram- right where you need help.
3. Is providing you with various lengths of tubes (3 lengths) and various sizes of tips (S,M,L) that you can try out for comfort and best effect.
Lastly, From there you can use the manual volume control to help in different environments
The "Smart" Way to Buy Hearing Aids Online
1. Get a Hearing Test from a local audiologist or Ear Nose and Throat Specialist - That is really best idea - if you cannot,
There are digital hearing instruments now on the market from very reputable companies that can satisfy the vast majority of mild to moderate hearing losses in need of hearing assistance. These devices are pre-programmed with settings in digital memory that "approximately fit" the usual downsloping high frequency hearing losses that commonly afflict the aging ear. That is to say, they are not perfectly tuned, but are often close enough that they represent a great value for the consumer.
2. Think about your Lifestyle - the daily situations you are in
- Talk about your lifestyle such as home, work, school, or when going out,
- Talk about manual dexterity and/or vision issues
- Talk your lifestyle which might affect the choice of hearing aid styles and features.
- Talk the memories, as it pertains to listening situations, such as noisy or large rooms, theaters, or meetings, in which you have the most difficulty hearing.
- Talk about expectations - what you may start hearing - getting used to hearing aids
3. Picking a hearing aid based on style, features, and controls
- Reviews the pros and cons of different hearing-aid styles and features- see Hearing Aid Pros and Cons above
- Considers your personal preferences style, color, cost, and features.
4. Make sure you talk about Maintenance
- Discusses the battery type for your hearing aid, battery life, the handling of batteries,
- Explains controls, like volume and memories
- Discusses what feedback means, and what you can do about it.
- Teaches you how to clean and store the hearing aids and keep them free of wax.
- Cautions you not to get them wet
- Outlines how you get used to them.
5. Financial issues
- Ask about the the total cost of the aids, repairs, long does a hearing aid last, reprogramming - if needed, and if you want to program at home
- Ask for coupons from Hearing Aids By Mail or Hearing Aids Online Companies!
6. Getting the Proper fitting of your hearing aid and making sure its adjusted right - or approximate fit.
- Fitting is three parts:
- 1. Is taking the audiogram or hearing test you have and finding the right hearing aid - from suggested fitting range of hearing aids.
- 2. if you decide to purchase from us...we take the audiogram and program the hearing aids according to the audiogram- right where you need help.
- 3. is providing you with various lengths of tubes (3 lengths) and various sizes of tips (S,M,L) that you can try out for comfort and best effect. Lastly, From there you can use the manual volume control to help in different environments
- Ask about troubleshooting strategies to fix problems yourself.
- Reviews use and maintenance tips.
7. What to look for and what not to look for from a Hearing Aids By Mail or Hearing Aids Online Company
- A online hearing aid company should have:
- Some Organization Like Shopper Approved or Better Business Bureau to track reviews
- How long have they been selling on the internet
- An Address - not just a PO box, but do they have a physical address -
- Lots of real reviews, you can fake text, but you cannot fake videos - videos from customers
- A 100% Money Back Guarantee Policy - no questions asked -
- Free Shipping
- Easy Returns and when do you get your money back?
- Free Lifetime Reprogramming Plan - Reprogramming takes 5 to 10 minutes so this should be free.
- Their About US page tells a story, pictures of people running the company
- One to Two Year Warranty on all their hearing aids.
- Loss and Damage Program. - what happens if you lose the aid - at some point you are going to lose an aid, step on it, dog eats it, take it in the shower.
- Do you get Batteries with order
8. What kind of Follow up does a Hearing Aids By Mail - Hearing Aids Online offer?
Make sure you get follow up Calls, emails, mail, newsletter - make sure they are available or respond back to you within certain time frame.
9. Paying for your hearing aid
Most Hearing Aids By Mail or Hearing Aids Online Companies should take:
- Check- this will take the longest because we wait for check to clear.
- Money order
- All forms of credit card
- Wire the Money - every Hearing Aids By Mail - Hearing Aids Online should have bank account so this should always be possible.
- Payment Plans like PayPal Credit - although the Interest Rates is very high - if you pay it off in 6 months there is no interest.
- Some companies may work with Insurance companies - although most Insurance companies DO NOT Cover hearing aids.
Your Next Steps
1. Get an Audiogram/Hearing Test
Hearing tests help determine what kind of hearing loss you have by measuring your ability to hear sounds in specific frequencies. Hearing Tests also help us guide you to the best fitting hearing aid.
2. Send us the Audiogram Fax, Email, Call or Use our Interactive Graph
3. Choose a Hearing Aid based on your hearing loss and lifestyle
We will make hearing aid suggestions based on your hearing loss, budget and lifestyle.
4. You place order, we program, ship and deliver in 3 to 7 business days.
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