Purchasing Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are necessary when the body has lost its ability to function “normally”. The transmission of sound has been altered, and usually decreased in intensity. The hair cells located in the inner ear become damaged and the sound transmission is altered. The brain is not receiving the full spectrum of speech and therefore comprehension is decreased. A person with hearing loss has to work harder to understand the message while a normal functioning hearing person does so effortlessly.
Hearing in more difficult environments, like background noise, soft speakers or those not facing the listener, brings out the hearing loss. A hearing aid is used to help replace the defective part not working 100% in the hearing systems. The purpose of a hearing aid is to give the brain the cleanest, clearest signal to process. Keep in mind, it is the brain which is doing the listening and comprehension. It is not the hearing aid.
Picking the Right Manufacturer and Model
There are many styles and models of hearing aids from which to choose. Six manufacturers dominate the market; Widex, Oticon, Starkey, Phonak, ReSound, and Sivantos (formerly known as Siemens). Each manufacturer has several models, and some have other brands under the parent company. For example, Phonak also owns Unitron and Lyric. Starkey owns Nu Ear and Audible. Oticon owns Danavox.
As audiologists and hearing aid dispensers, it is our job to stay on top of all the changes in technology. There is no way a patient could or should know what is best for their hearing loss. We love to discuss options that family or friends suggest, yet just because they suggest a manufacturer doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice for you. Our thorough evaluation will help us decide together the best option for your hearing needs.
Technology is evolving constantly, and we change with it. We are not tied into any one company or manufacturer. Our goal is to provide the best solution for you and your listening needs.
Oticon OPN S
Oticon is the world’s second largest hearing aid manufacture. The Oticon Opn hearing aids take the open sound experience to the next level with life-changing technology.
The new Oticon Opn S unlocks your world of sound by unleashing the full potential of your brain that processes audio information. Oticon’s OpenSound Optimizer analyzes sound at an astonishing 56,000 times per second to help detect and prevent feedback and deliver 30% more speech cues to your brain. Additionally, Oticon’s BrainHearing™ technology in the Opn S scans your environment 100 times per second to give you continual access to 360° of sounds to support the way your brain hears naturally. This allows you to enjoy speech understanding in challenging listening situations at the level of people with normal hearing. That means you won’t have to work as hard to hear, you’ll feel less stress and are more likely to join in conversations.
The Opn S hearing aids, coupled with the Oticon ON App, allows you to connect wirelessly to your iPhone so you can stream audio or music directly to your hearing aids. The ConnectClip enables hands-free calls and allows Android phone users to receive calls directly to their devices. Oticon’s TV Adapter turns your hearing aids into wireless headphones.
Opn S miniRITE R now offers the convenience of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries for a full day of power.
Call us today for a FREE demonstration and to learn more about the Oticon Opn S family of hearing aids and accessories.
WIDEX, a family owned hearing aid manufacturer for over 100 years, continues to be an industry leader in high quality hearing aids.
The new WIDEX EVOKE leads the way as the first hearing aid to use real-time machine learning to discover and adapt to the wearer’s preferences and real-life listening experiences. WIDEX’S SoundSense Technology coupled with the EVOKE APP, allows you to take personal control of your hearing to refine the sounds you hear – on the go! The APP is available for both iPhone and Android cell phones. SoundSense remembers your preferred settings for each situation or listening environment and adapts – even if you are in a totally new environment.
Evoke uses state-of-the-art processing enhancements that achieve a sound that is purer and more natural, without the remnants of electronic sound found in other hearing aid devices.
EVOKE offers a rechargeable feature, a Telecoil and can connect directly to your iPhone for phone calls.
WIDEX offers an array of accessories to help you improve comprehension. TV PLAY gives you TV streaming ability direct to you EVOKE hearing aids. The PHONE-DEX 2 is a cordless landline phone that improves clarity by sending the sound directly to your hearing aids.
Call us today for a FREE demonstration and to learn more about the WIDEX EVOKE family of hearing aids and accessories.
Is There Really Any Difference Between Models
All hearing aids amplify sound, just like all cars get you from one place to another. The difference is ‘how’ it happens or the experience along the way. With a car you pay more for the automatic features and the comfort along the way. Yet, if you don’t do a lot of driving, you may pick a different car or model. Your choices vary as your needs change. The same is true with hearing aids. They all amplify sound and work to reduce (NOT ELIMINATE) background noise. How they do this DOES DIFFER from manufacturer to manufacturer. Just like there is a difference between a Mercedes 550 and a Ford Escort, there is a difference between Oticon OPN S, Widex Evoke and Costco brands.
The problem is the consumer doesn’t how know to determine the difference or what features are important to buy. Many times consumers pay for the Mercedes, yet they walk into the office with the Escort. It is our job as the professional to guide you through the process and explain the differences in styles, models, and features.
What Styles Are Available?
- RIC: The most popular model on the market is the RIC, which stands for Receiver-In-Canal. It is lightweight, the battery door is easy to open and the look is cosmetically pleasing. More than 80% of the market utilizes this style or hearing aid. Universal or custom ear pieces are a part of this hearing system.
- ITE / ITC / CIC: These style of aids are custom made for the individual and take 7-10 business days to be produced. The canal aids were the most cosmetically appealing until the RIC hearing aid was introduced.
- BTE: Behind the Ear aids are used for children, severe hearing loss or those people who experience excessive wax, wet or draining ears. The hearing aid and all of its components sit behind the ear.
Why Is Ultimate Hearing of Laguna Hills Different?
At Ultimate Hearing of Laguna Hills, our goal is to change the quality of your life by changing “how” you hear. We take pride in offering the best hearing solution for you and your family and friends. We recognize fitting hearing aids is both an art and a science. With 20 years in the hearing care business, we have the experience and empathy to understand the importance of quality communications and how to achieve it.
There are a lot of choices when it comes to hearing care professionals trying to meet your expectations. Many dispensers are “licensed” to fit hearing aids, yet few have the education as an audiologist and the skills of 20+ years of both fitting and counseling patients. We also utilize hearing therapy and help slowly change the brain’s perception of sound. We don’t put aids on a patient, ask them how it sounds and then send them out the door which many patients have experienced elsewhere. We do things different and our patients notice it. Often patients who have worn hearing aids for years comment on the knowledge and detail they receive at our office.
At Ultimate Hearing of Laguna Hills, we assess, fit, counsel and most importantly, use Real Ear Measurements to verify our actions. The full 45 day process gives our patients the slow, steady improvement they need to get acclimated to sound and re-train the brain to accept, recognize and utilize the new auditory stimulus it is receiving.
An audiology degree in communication and hearing sciences, coupled with a background in speech pathology, counseling and language development enhances our therapy and practice methods. We believe in using LACE and other aural rehabilitation tools to complement the re-training process.
Proper fitting and training is the major difference between Ultimate Hearing of Laguna Hills and other offices, including Costco. Our business model is quality assessment, quality products, quality counseling and follow up. Yet, quality does not necessarily mean expensive. We offer a variety of prices to fit different budgets and lifestyles.
Does the Manufacturer of the Hearing Aid Matter?
Starting out with a quality product does help, which is why we are not tied into one single manufacturer. We are constantly researching and assessing the latest and best technology choices for our patients. Every manufacturer has their premium, standard and basic hearing aid product lines, yet the difference is in the performance. We use “award winning” and “best in the industry” manufacturers so our patients have the best technology available.
Use of Proprietary Software:
Don’t Get Locked In
Audigy, Audible, Miracle Ear, Beltone
We do not use proprietary software in any of our hearing aids. Proprietary software prevents patients from seeking adjustments from another hearing healthcare professional outside that proprietary network. Audibel, Miracle Ear, Beltone, some Costco and all Audigy (AGX) hearing aids utilize their own proprietary software. In the case of Audigy offices, you may think you are purchasing an Oticon OPN hearing aid yet it is not “open” for others to adjust. Any time AGX is associated with a model, it is closed software. This limits the number of providers a patient can seek for help. This is important, as often a provider can leave a practice, a patient moves or the patient wants to try another healthcare professional yet cannot. Legislation is currently being considered to address this concern as the patient may not understand the impact of proprietary software until well after the purchase.
Hearing Aid Can Be Adjusted For Better Performance
At Ultimate Hearing of Laguna Hills, we measure every hearing aid’s performance using Real Ear Measurement Technology. This process allows us to make adjustments to a patient’s hearing aid while in the ear and speech stimulus is being used.
Sadly, about 65% of all hearing aids brought into our office which were purchased from outside sources can benefit from adjustments. On countless occasions, patients report a marked difference between the original setting (from the other office) and the adjustments we recommend. Although not every hearing aid performs equally, all hearing aids when properly fit and adjusted, should sound clear and fit comfortably.