Let's talk hearing aids (again?)

Discussion in 'Medical Topics' started by FastEddieB, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I have no doubt, given the average age of forum members and the noise exposure that pilots face, that this is not the first time this has come up. But since the technology changes so rapidly, maybe it couldn't hurt to bring it up again.

    As background, I've had some level of measured hearing loss since my 40's, so approaching 70 its not surprising its getting worse. In addition, I've lived with mild tinnitus for decades.

    About 8 months ago I made the mistake of firing a .223 rifle twice without hearing protection, and that did not help matters. About a week ago I saw an ENT physician and they said the loss was enough that hearing aids were definitely in order. And warned - somewhat caustically - that delaying them makes it harder for them to stop the progression, since ultimately the brain forgets how to process certain frequencies. I went in just wanting an objective measure, but feeling I was not quite ready for hearing aids - in day-to-day life I get by pretty well, perhaps only struggling where there's a lot of background noise. It has not noticeably affected my ability to hear radio transmissions using the LightSpeed headsets in my Sky Arrow.

    So, the journey has begun. I was wondering how some made their purchase decisions and what brands they ended up with and how satisfied they are. The ENT recommended an Oticon OPN2 at $4,600. I suspect they profit from sales of certain models, which is why I want to shop around. At least one family member was happy with the ones they got at Costco, for a whole lot less. I do consider the ability to link to an iPhone as highly desirable.

    Thanks in advance. I did not make this anonymous, since I don't think its a secret, but if anyone would be more comfortable posting anonymously or contacting me directly, I understand and will protect your privacy.
     
  2. weilke

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    Huh ?
     
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  3. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    After the .223, its not that I can't hear as well, but sometimes there's an element of the drive-thru in this comedy routine...

     
  4. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Thankfully I haven't had to think about that yet, but just as with anything Costco, the quality of your experience is going to depend heavily on the qualification of the person doing the fitting. For glasses and contacts, for many years, the best optometrist in our area was the gentleman who had the Target optical contract. So a good fitting of a cheaper hearing aid is going to leave you happier than a poor job done with the $5000 piece. Many hearing aids end up in a desk drawer because the owner prefers it that way. Ask around in your area what ADs folks have had a good experience with. Hearing aids are a high margin business.
     
  5. jsstevens

    jsstevens Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I intentionally went to an audiologist who did not sell heating aids. As it turns out, she’s a professor of audiology at UCF and the exam included various students observing and even administering some of the tests under her direct and undivided supervision. I wanted an opinion from someone who had no vested interest in selling me hearing aids.

    I’ve used power tools, sometimes professionally, and play in bands. So my hearing has been abused some.

    The end result is my hearing is “very good”. I’m quite aware that I can’t hear some high frequencies that I used to. And I have trouble in noisy environments. So I asked her about that. She said yes, you’re getting older-but for you, no hearing aid will help that.

    Your mileage will most likely vary, but I’d say an independent 2nd opinion would be worth it before you buy 4.6 AMUs worth of hearing aids that may not help.

    John
     
  6. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    I must have a set that has an easy to use on/off switch. Lots of people I simply don't want to hear.
     
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  7. N659HB

    N659HB Pattern Altitude

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    Eddie, that's a very good price and an excellent aid, unless that's a per device cost. Remember, you are also paying for professional services, not just the devices. It's easy to equate hearing aids with other consumer electronics, but they are regulated as medical devices for a reason.
     
  8. texasclouds

    texasclouds Cleared for Takeoff

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    what?
     
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  9. Checkout_my_Six

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  10. Jim Rosenow

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    Went thru this a few weeks ago. Finally admitted years of range shooting and small aircraft with no hearing protection had taken their toll.

    The answer I came up with may surprise folks.....Costco! I had heard good things from others about their audiology department, so I gave it a shot. Very professional audiologist on staff, who made a point to tell me he was not on commission, during the 3-hour initial hearing assessment. Costco has their own brand at around $1800 (for the pair). I ended up with a step-up to Phonak at $2300 for the pair. That includes everything, including follow-up appointments for 2 years, and supplies. Mine are re-chargeable, so lost the battery PITA thing.

    It's been two months and I'm a happy camper! As always, YMMV!

    Jim

    PS- Ironically, my best bud back in Illinois went to Costco back there. Same experience, and another happy camper. He chose the in-the-ear model.
     
  11. bbchien

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    (per family of mine): Costo with the 4 mics. The ability to focus the microphone direction really really helps in say a restaurant.....
     
  12. flyingron

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    [​IMG]
     
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  13. flyingron

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    I've got the Resound Lynx3D (which I think may be the same as one of the Kirkland models). I can switch between the general mode (which is pretty good) to the "restaurant" mode which is pretty focused to where I am looking. If I want I can tweak up some of the values with the app on my phone. Of course, the iPhone boogies direct to my years.

    I actually bought a Noahlink device on ebay (and found the fitting software on the Resound Canada site), so much to the chagrin of my audiologist I can tweak the settings my self.
     
  14. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    My late father gave up on in-ear devices, and then just went around with shooting muffs with the built-in amplifiers. Worked for him, and he never really cared what others thought (heck, her often wore a red bowler!)
     
  15. Jim Rosenow

    Jim Rosenow Line Up and Wait

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    Concur with Doc. I tried both types and wandered around Costco. I was able to tell the difference, since confirmed socially.

    Jim
     
  16. Matthew

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    I'm a month away from the same thing. I'm not a Costco member, but I've also heard very good things about them - the hardware and the follow-up service.

    I'm going to be looking for something that has a smartphone interface. In my case, it's only one ear that's a problem.
     
  17. gkainz

    gkainz Final Approach

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    Has anyone attempted to navigate a VA re-assessment for service related hearing loss many years after discharge? I got the 60 second exam at discharge and "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out" 0% disabled classification. I have my before and after hearing test results (I hope?) in my files somewhere.
     
  18. FastEddieB

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    Thanks for all the advice so far.

    I just made an appointment with the audiologist at the Costco west of Knoxville for Saturday. I’ll let you know how that goes.
     
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  19. Half Fast

    Half Fast Final Approach

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    Eddie, it would be cheaper to just get a suppressor for your AR15.
     
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  20. Lowflynjack

    Lowflynjack En-Route

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    For someone who has flown his whole life, and a lot of those years were before we knew headsets weren't just for the airline pilots, I have amazing hearing. I have a friend who wasn't so lucky though. He ended up getting hearing aids at a young age and it's changed his life. Not sure what he spent, but I know they weren't cheap. They're tiny, you can barely see them. They have some great technology. They are bluetooth, so he can talk on the phone, listen to music, or watch TV. They also have a feature where if the right ear is hearing something, it sends a small percentage of that sound to the left ear to mimic what you would hear if you didn't need hearing aids at all.
     
  21. Matthew

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    Hearing aid technology is really pretty impressive. And they are lifechangers for a lot of people.
     
  22. flyingron

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    My father and I went to different audiologists. When we went in we both said that our wives say we can't hear them. Both audi's said they get a lot of that.

    The day after I got my aids, we went out to dinner in town and my wife said it was the first time she hadn't had to repeat the waitress to me.
    I also never realized all the chirping birds we have in our backyard.

    There's a pretty good Hearing Aid user forum here: https://forum.hearingtracker.com/
     
  23. FastEddieB

    FastEddieB Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Update...

    I had the appointment at the Costco outside Knoxville. Since I brought in my test results, they did not do a hearing test.

    The fellow’s recommendation was the Phonak Brio 3. About $2,599, I think.

    https://www.costco.com/phonak.html

    Advantages include a 6-month trial period and service at any Costco with a hearing aid department.

    There are two models. The rechargeable ones require a separate module to enable Bluetooth. The ones with Bluetooth built in require replaceable batteries. Since I often listen to podcasts and news via my AirPods now, I almost certainly would spring for built in Bluetooth.

    I’m awaiting the results of a test the audiologist wanted performed before going any further. I’ll report back as things proceed.
     
  24. Matthew

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    Is that price for a pair? I know prices can really change quickly when extra features are added.

    I'm looking soon at dealing with hearing in only one ear. I don't think streaming from a phone to an aid will gain much since I'd only be able to get it in one ear. I don't know how it would work to plug my earbud into one ear and Bluetooth to the other.
     
  25. FastEddieB

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    Yes, that price was for a pair.

    I'm assuming at this lower price the Phonaks might not be quite as good or full-featured as the $4,600 Oticons. But if they can get me through a few years of improved hearing, no doubt by then the technology will have advanced and hopefully have more features at a lower price point.
     
  26. Matthew

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    Thanks. I don't know how Costco works, but I have heard good things about the models they carry and their follow-up care. Even if the tech they use lags a couple years behind the latest models for that mfg, they are still getting better each year.

    My left ear probably got it worse because of the old beater cars I grew up driving - no a/c meant keeping that driver side window down, and I did a lot of highway driving. I remember being on a highway when a semi was moving slowly past me. It was loud enough already, but then one of the tires blew next to my left ear. That ringing took days to go away - if it ever really did. That ear has the cicada swarm in it, along with a hearing loss that's considerably worse than my right ear. It's been something I've tried getting used to, but now my neck hurts from having to turn my head all the time, especially in a busy place like in a crowd. I went a year ago for a thorough baseline test, now I'll go back in a couple weeks. I think it's worse, but it's also possible that I'm finally getting more aware of it. Either way, it's getting to be the time to do something about it.
     
  27. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Another happy Costco customer. I go in (correction: I have gone in for several years since buying my hearing aids) and get new tubing and a cleaning every 90 days. Except for batteries, hasn't cost me a penny since the original purchase.

    Bob Gardner
     
  28. Jim Rosenow

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    Curiosity question... for those have had hearing aids for awhile. Do you wear them in your a/c?....under noise-cancelling headsets? First time I tried it, I had to pull them out cause it was too noisy. We flew to Sporty's the other day, and I left them in for the hour or so each way with no problem. Is it just something you get used to? Thanks!

    Jim
     
  29. Checkout_my_Six

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    anyone have a BAHA? I'm looking into one. Let's hear the pro's and con's....
     
  30. Matthew

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    That's interesting, I had to look that up. I'm familiar with cochlear implants (I know quite a few people with them) but didn't know BAHA was a thing. I did a bone conduction test for my hearing screening and was pretty impressed at how well it worked. I would think the BAHA types would work pretty well for the right situation.
     
  31. C-1 PILOT

    C-1 PILOT Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Wow, Eddie that's a good price, if the unit is a s good as they say. Mine (Siemans) are around $3,500 a piece, a little bit less with my LE and union discount.
     
  32. Checkout_my_Six

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    I'm told that....I have previous mastoid surgery and regular hearing aids are not an option. The hearing is slowing falling off....so I probably need to do something sooner....than later. I've been putting it off.
     
  33. Matthew

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    The bone conduction test I took placed a transducer against the bone straight behind my ear-hole. It conducts sound through the bone into the inner ear, bypassing the rest of the ear structures. I was really, really impressed at how well it worked - I had to ask that it be removed and replaced a few times because it sounded so "real" that I had a hard time believing it. From the 2-3 minutes I've spent looking at the baha, I would expect it to work just as well. But for practical, everyday use, I have no idea how easy it is to deal with. My part of town is very close to the State Deaf School, and we see a lot of cochlear implants. My neighbor ended up with one after his aids just couldn't handle it any more. He was really grateful for how well that worked for him, and he didn't seem bothered by having something screwed into his skull.

    edit:

    For flying use -- dunno how it would work out. A regular headset might not work for whatever side you are dealing with.
     
  34. Matthew

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    For all you folks with BTE/RIC aids:

    How well do they fit under a DC 13.x headset or similar?

    Do you remove them? Leave them in?
     
  35. flyingron

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    I have RIC aids (Resound Lynx 3d) and they fit under my lightspeeds just fine. Sometimes there's a little feedback so I just turn them off (leaving them in place).
     
  36. Jim Rosenow

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    I've use my behind-the-ears under my Bose's. I think they help the clarity of transmissions. Took a couple flights to get used to it.

    Jim
     
  37. Matthew

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    thx.

    i already wear glasses and the DC clamps squeeze pretty good, especially on my sunglasses temple pieces. I didn't know if adding another item would create any pinch points.

    I'm OK with my DCs so far because I can adjust L/R volume independently.
     
  38. Matthew

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    Looks like in 2 weeks I'll be getting one installed. I took my DCs with me today, but left them in the car. The RIC model (Widex Evoke) is really small, and fits tighter behind my ear than I expected. Even when I clamped down on my ear with my hand I couldn't feel it.
     
  39. Matthew

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    I joined the club today.

    I did take my sunglasses and DCs with me this time. That's kind of a worst case, everything fit well. A long flight might be a different story, but I didn't feel any new pressure points.
     
  40. FastEddieB

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    Follow up...

    After over 6 months of procrastination followed by scheduling delays, I went back in to Costco yesterday for testing. If anything, the testing seemed more detailed than at the audiologist, including what I think was a bone conduction test. I’m pretty sure my hearing had degraded over the last 6 months. Word recognition in my left ear was especially abysmal at around 75%, with right ear about 95%. Moderate midrange loss but more significant high frequency loss.

    Anyway, the current recommendation was for the Resound brand. The Preza rechargeables were about $1,000 more at around $2,700 all in - both ears - with charger. I went for them both for convenience and the allegation they are waterproof to a higher standard than the replaceable battery models. They have Bluetooth and are controllable via an iPhone app.

    https://www.costco.com/resound.html

    Anyway, I pick them up and get fitted/programmed in about a week. The lady was honest that it takes at least a month to get acclimated to them, but I’m pretty “compliant” when it comes to this sort of thing. I’ll update this update once I get them and give first impressions.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019