What are hearing aids?

What are hearing aids?

HEARING AIDS are devices that work to improve a person’s hearing and speech comprehension, for those with hearing loss. It magnifies the sound  air pressure vibrations in the ear so that one can understand what is being said around them.

Some people say they cannot live without hearing aids because they say it is the only thing that keeps them engaged with the public. Others dislike hearing aids, because they feel wearing them is embarrassing. Due to their low-esteem, they avoid hearing aid usage altogether and would rather remain quiet, isolated and to themselves outside of a social environment.

Consumer Reports offers A HEARING AID BUYING GUIDE


Assistive devices for hearing impaired  Videophones, SKYPE and similar video technologies can be used for communication using sign language. Video conferencing technologies permit signed conversations as well as permitting a sign language–English interpreter to voice and sign conversations between a deaf or hard of hearing person and that person’s hearing party, negating the use of a TTY device or computer keyboard.

  • Video relay service and video remote interpreting (VRI) services also use a third-party telecommunication service to allow a deaf or hard-of-hearing person to communicate quickly and conveniently with a hearing person, through a sign language interpreter.
    • Hearing dogs are a specific type of assistance dog specifically selected and trained to assist the deaf and hard of hearing by alerting their handler to important sounds, such as doorbells, smoke alarms, ringing telephones, or alarm clocks.
    • The Internet and closed captioning has given the deaf and hard of hearing unprecedented access to information. Electronic mail and online chat have reduced the need for deaf and hard-of-hearing people to use a third-party Telecommunications Relay Service to communicate with the hearing and other deaf people.
    • Some  require phones with amplifiers that have a higher power of amplification when compared to a regular phone. The Hearing Aid Telephone Interconnect System is a hands free amplification system which allows people to amplify sound when using telephones, cell phones, computer and pay phones by way of the attachment of a portable unit.
  • Wireless hearing aids for severely impairedA wireless device has two main components: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter broadcasts the captured sound, and the receiver (speaker) enables the incoming audio stream to be connected to hearing aids or captioning systems.Three types of wireless systems are commonly used: FM, audio induction loop, and InfraRed. Each system has advantages and benefits for particular uses. FM systems can be battery operated or plugged into an electrical outlet. FM system produce an analog audio signal. Many FM systems are very small in size. The audio induction loop permits the listener with hearing loss to be free of wearing a receiver, but the listener must have a hearing aid or cochlear implant processor with an accessory called a “telecoil“. If the listener does not have a telecoil, then he or she must carry a speaker with an earmoldAs with FM systems, the infrared (IR) system also requires a receiver (speaker) to be worn or carried by the listener. An advantage of IR wireless systems is that people in adjoining rooms cannot listen in on conversations. Another way to achieve confidentiality is to use a hardwired amplifier, which contains or is connected to a microphone and transmits no signal beyond the speaker plugged directly into it.

There are dozens of hearing aid companies. COSTCO is the biggest seller, because of their wide distribution.

Costco is a warehouse membership club, similar to Wal Mart’s Sam’s Club, which has its origins with a company called Price Club that began in San Diego, CA in 1976. The brand originally only sold to businesses. Costco started in 1983 in Seattle, WA, and Costco and Price Club merged in 1993.

Costco is the largest seller of hearing aids in the United States other than the Veteran’s Administration. The company carries Rexton, ReSound, Bernafon, and Phonak brands, as well as its own brand, Kirkland Signature, manufactured by Sivantos.

Kirkland Signature 7.0 premium digital hearing instruments are Costco’s current top model, priced at $1,699 featuring wireless technology and an app that will control the hearing aid via an Android or iPhone smartphone.

The company’s hearing devices are sold through each store’s Costco hearing aid center, where customers can get their ears tested and, if necessary, buy a product. Costco hearing aid reviews are generally pretty good based on the devices themselves, but where they run into some negative comments tends to be when it comes to service, garnering an overall customer satisfaction rating of 2.5 out of five stars from the site ConsumerAffairs.com.

Here are some examples of customer satisfaction:

Some of the Costco Hearing Aid Centers have good folks, many  do not. They do not return phone calls, do not listen to your issues, don’t care. They do not even check the programming to be sure you have the programs they tell you do. Great program, crappy supervision.” If you move to another location, the new store often will not serve you.

– Jim of Indian Head, MD

The women that work there are simply not interested in customer service. It is a one hour, round trip for me and I have gotten there and been told that they don’t have time to service my hearing aids, to come back another time. I have made 3 trips to replace my current hearing aids. The place needs a new manager. The only thing that any business has to sell is customer service. I can buy product anywhere. I want to be treated like a valuable customer and that is not happening there, with the exception of one young lady named Linda.”

– Patricia of Auburn, CA

“I had the worst experience with Costco Hearing Aids at Edison, NJ. At the time American Express was still honoring extended warranty. I spent $3000 on hearing aids.”

– Aash of Edison, NJ



  • Cochlear ImplantThere is no treatment surgical or otherwise for hearing lost due to the most common causes (age, noise and genetic defects).

    For a few specific conditions, surgical intervention can provide a remedy:

    Surgical and implantable hearing aids are a very expensive ( $100,000, including related care) alternative to ordinary externally worn hearing aids. If the ear is dry and not infected, an air conduction aid is normally used; if the ear is draining, a direct bone condition hearing aid is often the best solution. If the conductive part of the hearing loss is more than 30–35 db, an air conduction device could have problems. A bone-anchored hearing aid could, in this situation, be an option. The active bone conduction hearing implant Bonebridge is also an option. This implant is invisible under the intact skin and therefore minimizes the risk of skin irritations.

    Cochlear implants may improve outcomes in people with hearing loss in either one or both ears. They work by artificial stimulation of the cochlear nerve (inner ear), by providing an electric impulse substitution for the firing of hair cells. They are expensive, and require programming along with extensive training.

    Persons with cochlear implants are at a higher risk for bacterial meningitis. So, meningitis vaccination is recommended. People who develop a hearing problem in childhood or old age, may need support and technical adaptations as part of the rehabilitation process. Recent research shows if implanted at a very young age, some profoundly impaired children can acquire effective hearing and speech, particularly if supported by appropriate rehabilitation.

    Classroom for children with hearing aids

    Children with hearing loss often benefit from attending a school for the Deaf, where they will have access to language, communication, and education. Another option is to have the child attend a mainstream school, with the student sitting as close to the teacher as possible to improve the student’s ability to hear the teacher’s voice and to more easily read the teacher’s lips. Teachers can help the student by facing them and by limiting unnecessary noise in the classroom. The teacher can avoid talking when their back is turned to the classroom, such as while writing on a whiteboard.

    Other approaches for classroom accommodations, include pairing deaf or hard of hearing students with hearing students. This allows the deaf or hard of hearing student to ask the hearing student questions about things they have not understood. The use of CART (Communication Access Real Time) systems, where an individual types a captioning of what the teacher is saying, is also helpful. The student views this captioning on their computer.

    Automated captioning systems are also becoming a popular option. In an automated system, software, instead of a person, is used to generate the captioning. Unlike Automated systems generally do not require an Internet connection and thus they can be used anywhere and anytime. Another advantage of automated systems over CART is that they are much lower in cost. However, automated systems are generally designed to only transcribe what the teacher is saying and do not transcribe what other students say. An automated system works best for situations where just the teacher is speaking, whereas a CART system will be preferred for situations where there is a lot of classroom discussion.

    For those students who are completely deaf, one of the most common interventions is having the child communicate with others through an interpreter using sign language.

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