Reading consumer reviews of hearing aids can be misleading.
Factor #1- Different hearing loss, different expectations.
Consider two different people- one with a severe hearing loss since childhood and one with an age-related mild hearing loss. The person with the severe hearing loss has worn aids for decades and has realistic expectations about how much help a hearing aid can provide. They understand they will never hear as well as normal hearing. They have no idea what normal hearing even sounds like! The person with a degenerative hearing loss later in life still remembers what it is to function with normal hearing and has the expectation that a hearing aid will “fix them like new”. Imagine the first patient is blown away with new technology and finally being able to hear well on a cell phone. She/he writes a glowing review! The other patient still has trouble hearing at the sports bar and feels for their investment he/she should be hearing every word without fail. They write a review reflecting their disappointment.
Factor #2 – Operator error.
Many complaints of hearing aid problems due to reliability may reflect the care they are given. Wearers that have excessive ear wax and do not take the time to do basic cleaning of their aids are bound to have problems. Some brands are easier to maintain than others. Some styles of hearing aids are easier to maintain. We try to ensure we choose the right product for those needs.
Factor #3- The same hearing aid, but fit by a different hearing provider.
Not all providers have the same training, equipment, or follow best practices. It is the provider’s job to write the programming for the hearing loss and counsel effectively on how to use the devices. They are set to a prescription based on your hearing test. An accurate hearing test is the foundation of success with hearing aids. We do not accept hearing test results from non-audiologist providers. I have seen hearing tests that were performed elsewhere in a noisy warehouse that are drastically different. Imagine how inaccurate the prescription would be based on that test and the hearing aid would be set much too loud.
This is possibly the single most important bias to keep in mind when reading hearing aid reviews. Many argue (and I agree) that comprehensive hearing care is the most important factor in achieving a good outcome with hearing aids – even above the product itself.
Common complaints from hearing aids not set to the correct prescription:
Everything is too loud. I hear every squeak and footstep.
Women’s voices are sharp/shrill.
My voice/everything has an echo.
I don’t notice much difference with the hearing aids.
Everything is loud but not clear.
I hear people farther away better than up close.
Loud sounds are uncomfortable!
Real ear measurements are tests performed with the hearing aids in your ears to make sure we do not have these problems. Most clinics in our area do not have the equipment and/or training to provide this. Please ask if they do before making an appointment.