Do self-fitting over-the-counter hearing devices help?
Follow along as we review the effectiveness of self-fitting, over-the-counter hearing aids.
Hi, I’m Dr. Egan and today, we will do a little bit of an experiment with some over-the-counter sound amplifiers. Our patient care coordinator, Nathalie has agreed to be part of the experiment. Looking at her recent hearing test, she has a mild to moderate low-frequency hearing loss in both of her ears, but more so in her right ear. Hopefully, since she is in the mild to moderate category, over counter hearing aids will be available. We thought she would be the perfect person to test these sound amplifiers. And that’s what we’re going to walk through next. But first, Nathalie will talk to us about her experience wearing these over the last few days.
They are bulky in the ear, and these actually make people sound further away. I seem to have trouble with the lower tones, and I would say that this picks up more treble for me. I tried to adjust it in the app, but I found that I didn’t notice a big difference and tried it in many settings. I tried it in the grocery store, hanging out in the house, and riding through a drive-through. I tried a number of the settings and found that everything sounded like it was coming from weird angles, I couldn’t locate sound as well, and I wasn’t getting the lower tones that I needed.
So, we are going to use these Nuheara IQ buds that are some of the most popular sound amplifiers right now. We will use Real-ear measurement to see exactly what they are doing and if they are providing adequate prescriptive sound for what Nathalie is missing. Since her hearing is worse in her right ear, that’s where we will start. I’m going to use our Real-ear measurement system, our measurement microphone. I’m going to put that in her ear, and then we will put the hearing device in her ear.
She’s going to hear a passage about Carrots, the vegetable, and we will see exactly what those hearing aids are doing. (Passage plays.) So, she had several days to use them and crank things up where she felt like it would help. If you look at this screen here, these purple dots are her prescription, and the purple line is what we measured. This confirms my concerns about over-the-counter devices. They are a lot less sophisticated than even entry-level hearing aids and have fewer features that you can use, but more importantly, none of what she was hearing was anywhere near the prescription that she needed. For saving $500 here and there but not receiving any of the benefits you need. If you had purchased these hearing aids, it would have been a complete waste of money. The moral of the story is: before you go looking into these kinds of devices, to make sure an audiologist tested your hearing and to make sure that you understand exactly what you are getting into because more often than not, you’re buying something hoping that it will help, and the difference it’s making will be slim to none.
Thank you for helping with this Nathalie!
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