Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Hearing Loss and An Empowered Life–Low Cost Hearing Aids {Review}

I’ve been outfitted with hearing aids that have been customized by Audiologists since a young child.  My hearing loss has since been defined by a series of beeps, blips, bloops and muffled words hidden by a hand-covered mouth. The dreaded hearing tests. If you’ve had a hearing test, no further explanation is needed. Typically my hearing aids come after a procession of visits and limited options of insanely expensive hearing aids. So expensive are these aids, my insurance would only cover one. And that one little aid was a grand total of $3000.00.  Last summer, my reoccurring visions of a decapitated aid came to life. Despite deliberate ways of securing 3K, my hearing aid, safely from little fingers, 3K was high-jacked by my youngest and broken. I contacted my Audiologist only to be told that they were no longer accepting my insurance.

Daunted by the prospect of finding a doctor that I liked and jumping through appointment hoops of referrals and whatnots, I decided to go without a hearing aid for a while.

…It was difficult to say the least. Finally, out of sheer frustration, I went online to find an amplifier of sorts to tide me over. You know, those twenty dollar ones that promise you the ability to eavesdrop from across the room.

My search brought me to site after site of varying amps and articles of how ridiculously overpriced hearing aids are during these times of advanced technology. With four little keywords in Google’s search engine, low cost hearing aids, the Google waters parted to reveal MD Hearing Aid.

I was dumbfounded and ecstatic all at once. Never did it cross my mind that professional-grade hearing aids could be purchased, online, without the fuss and hassle of appointments AND….cost a  miniscule amount of money! The site showed three different kinds of aids with the lowest priced at $119.00 per aid!!

Before I get ahead of myself, here’s an excerpt on Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, MD the founder and inventor of the MDHearingAid line.

Sreekant Cherukuri, MD, Board-Certified Ear, Nose, & Throat Physician in Chicago, IL is the inventor of the MDHearingAid line. As an attending physician in otolaryngology, Dr. Cherukuri found that he saw too many patients with hearing loss going home without a solution because they couldn’t afford the hearing aid prices— many hundreds, or thousands, of dollars were usually needed to pay for them. As a physician, he knew the effects of untreated hearing loss: depression, social isolation, anxiety and symptoms consistent with Alzheimer’s dementia.

After conducting a hearing aid quality comparison of several hearing aids and sound amplifiers in the under-$200 range, he found that most failed to work well on clearly amplifying the human voice. His passion became developing the best hearing aid at a reasonable price that used typical hearing aid batteries and could help with the most common types of hearing loss. He was looking for a “one-size-fits-most” hearing aid similar to reading glasses that can easily be purchased at the drug store. Adding to that mission was to provide clear, expert consumer information on hearing aids to anyone with a hearing issue.

He then created the MDHearingAid line of hearing aids to exact technical specifications so that the range of sounds associated with the human voice would be amplified without overly amplifying background sounds. Hearing aid ratings on the flagship MDHearingAid PRO by leaders in the hearing loss field (ENT Physicians and Audiologists) show unanimous agreement that the sound quality and output is surprisingly accurate given its low cost.About MDHearingAid

I contacted Dr. Cherukuri and was taken aback by his very positive and encouraging response. He would give me, not one, but two aids to review. He asked for my hearing test to ensure I was a good fit for his aids. When he replied, he explained that my bilateral symmetrical hearing loss wouldn’t be compatible with the aids and recommended that I continue my quest for customized assistance, as they were the best for me. He also invited me to his office to resolve any insurance issues. I asked if I could review them anyway. Although I do have severe hearing loss, I am able to hear sounds and hold conversations without assistance, albeit with difficulty. He agreed.

A week later this arrived in my mail box.

MDHearingBox

 

The Product…

The MDHearing Aid Air is the latest in the MDHearingAid line. The Air is comprised of digital technology and boasts of features such as:

  • Advanced Feedback Cancellation to reduce and eliminate whistling.
  • 2-Channel/12 Band digital amplification to accurately reproduce speech sounds.
  • Advanced Noise Reduction to reduce noise embedded in speech and maximize speech quality.
  • Advanced Compression technology to magnify soft sounds and dampen loud sounds.
  • Telecoil to enhance hearing on telephone.

The volume starts at one and goes as high as four. It also has 4 different programs you can use in different situations. The first program is the quiet mode (normal) which can be used for home, watching TV etc. The second program is the party mode which is used in noisy environments such as group meetings or church. The third program is the noisy mode for intense noise situations such as traffic, restaurants or large crowds. The forth program is the telecoil, which is used with the telephone. The microphone is off in this mode.

MDHearingLayoutTableMDHearingLayoutUpright

 

 

 

 

 

MDHearingFlatPalm

MDHearingTop

 

 

 

 

 

What’s cool about the kit is that it comes with two different ways of wearing the aids. Thin tubing for discretion. Traditional tubing which is best for those with severe hearing loss such as myself.

MDHearingThinTubes

MDHearingTraditionalTubes

 

 

 

 

 

The thin tubes are on the left (purple). The traditional tubes are on the right (green).

The product is also registered with the FDA and has been audiologist tested.

The Experience…

Although Dr. Cherukuri suggested, after reviewing my hearing test, that his aids wouldn’t be a good fit for the type loss that I had, there is no doubt in my mind that the MDHearingAid Air, not only worked for me, but has been the best aids I’ve had. Ever.

The Air’s ability to magnify and support clean speech recognition is simply astounding. Not only can I hear sounds, I can identify them most of the time! I can identify who is crying and what kind of crying (happy/sad) from another room! I can hear my phone’s default ringtone from another room. Not only that, I can tell WHICH email app received a new email. What’s awesome about that…both email apps have the “same” default tone selected. For whatever reason, the tones go on a tad longer and have a slightly higher pitch than the other does.

At close range, I can understand my husband’s speech without looking at this face. I’m only able to do this with him, because I’m used to his voice and speech. I discovered that my favorite store, Trader Joe, plays music over their sound system! I’ve been shopping at this store for the longest time, with at least two different professionally customized and EXPENSIVE aids….this is the first time I’ve ever heard music playing at this store.

Unbelievable.

I also discovered my home is LOUD. Actually, I’ve always known this. Since wearing the Air, I’m acutely aware just how loud. I’m constantly shushing everyone! Obviously, it’s a party house since my aids frequently visit the “party mode” program! And yes, the programs work well. 3K had programs, but I could barely detect the differences between them. I’d love to have the beeps that preface the programs a bit louder. The telecoil program has four nice loud beeps, but the party and noisy mode have softer beeps which can be a bit difficult to determine which program I’m on, in a noisy environment. Having said that, the softer beeps on some of the programs have not dampened the enrichment of the experience in the slightest!

Another fantastic feature is lasting battery usage. The battery in 3K would last a week. Since, I’m getting used to having an aid in my left ear, I didn’t use this aid as much as I did the right aid. The battery in my right aid lasted two weeks. (I’m up from 6am to 12 am) The battery in my left aid lasted three.

Amazing.

Now, it’s important to understand. Hearing aids are not a cure for hearing loss. I still struggle to understand conversations daily. I just struggle a lot less. These aids are a tool for living life with a bit more empowerment than I had before it. My results, while astronomical (at least for me), may not be the same for everyone, but it does speak volumes to quality, when the creator of this product suggests customized aids would be better for me, and his aids are the best experience I’ve had yet.

My Air aids with traditional tubes.

MyAirWithTraditionalTubes

Final Thoughts

36 million people in the United States suffer from hearing loss. Hearing loss can be closely associated with age, but can occur in a number of ways. 77 percent go without hearing aids because of the out of pocket cost. Approximately 23% of insurance do not cover the high cost of aids. Hearing aids can range from $1000.00 to $10,000.00…and that’s per aid. In our high tech surroundings, we can find the smallest of technology for under $100.00 as easily as driving down the street. The arrival of low-cost, high-tech hearing aids is way past its due. Hearing aids are not only costly, but time consuming to receive. If there is anything I detest more than not getting the expected quality for my money, it’s wasting time. Taking time out your schedule to set up referral appointments, hearing tests, ear mold fittings etc. can be just as much as a deterrent to the cost itself.

Having said that, I do respect the process…to a certain degree. I simply tire of appointments strategized by professionals as a “referral” for possible or promised commissions by hearing aid manufacturers... especially  if I end up with an aid that costs $3000.00 with subpar functions. What I truly appreciate about MDHearingAid is the simple and straightforward access to affordable aids.

Dr. Cherukuri is a fine doctor who saw a problem, a need and set about fulfilling it. I‘ve said this to him personally and I’ll say it here…the world needs more doctors like him.

If you or a loved one are experiencing hearing loss, I highly recommend the Air. To learn more about the MDHearingAid line visit www.mdhearingaid.com  Find them on Facebook.

 

Disclaimer:

TheOliveParent is not an expert in the field of Audiology or any other fields of medicine. Consult your doctor for any medical assistance or needs.

 

7 comments:

  1. Hi Hannah, thanks for a very informative post. I'm just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Chris!

      I'm heading over to follow you on GFC. :)

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. I just ran across your article about the MD hearing Aid Air since I've been shopping for more cost effective hearing aids. I had a hearing test and was offered a 30 day trial period by the $6000 aid people until they found out I couldn't get a loan. I wore them for about an hour in a busy store and listened to their receptionist on the phone which was a good experience, but then my daughter called and I couldn't understand a word she said and I usually can. I have moderate hearing loss and was not ready to plunk down $6000 to correct it. Was so glad to read your report about the md air, I've been considering it and looking for positive experiences. Yours was definitely a positive, well written report with lots of info I hadn't found elsewhere. Thanks

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    1. You're so welcome! I'm still wearing 'em and still loving 'em!

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    2. I bought the Pro several months ago and have been having a good experience with it. My more expensive aids from Costco always had too much feedback, distortion, etc. Many visits to various Costco proved to be useless. That's why I tried the Pro. It never had feedback problems and no trips back to a hearing center to try to have it adjusted. I feel it is a simple device which gives me what I need without any bells or whistles, but works great. I'm wondering if the Pro will last a long time. I've had mine for only five months. If it does last, I will try the Air model next. By the way, battery life is really good on my Pro.

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    3. Hi Rainbow!

      Glad to hear you're enjoying your new Pro aids. I'll have my Air aids for a year next month, they are still going strong. They become a bit "staticky" every few months from general dirt/grime. A simply cleaning, per instructions does the trick. :)

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