Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Not All Hearing Aids Are Created Equal

Date:
August 14, 2008
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Consumers with hearing loss might think they are saving significantly more by purchasing over-the-counter hearing aids, but they most likely will be disappointed -- or could be taking risks -- when purchasing such aids, according to new research.

Consumers with hearing loss might think they are saving significantly more by purchasing over- the-counter hearing aids, but they most likely will be disappointed – or could be taking risks – when purchasing such aids, according to MSU research.

Professor Jerry Punch of the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders and Susanna Love Callaway, a lifelong education alumna and international student from Denmark, published their study on over-the-counter hearing aids in a recent issue of the American Journal of Audiology.

Through her work as a student in Punch’s two online courses, Callaway began to wonder about the high cost variability of hearing aids and asked Punch to advise her on a potential project. Specifically, do hearing aids have to be expensive to work from a purely technical standpoint? Punch and Callaway set out to find the answer by subjecting 11 over-the-counter hearing aids to the same test protocol as traditional hearing aids.

Most consumers do not have or have only partial insurance coverage for hearing aids, leading to out-of-pocket expenses ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Low-cost options are typically marketed on the Internet and in mail-order magazines as listening devices – often for bird watchers or deer hunters.

“These low-cost amplifying devices can look tempting to individuals with hearing impairment because of the significant cost differences,” Punch said. “But our research found that the low-cost aids generally don’t meet the fitting requirements to help a hearing-impaired person and could potentially damage a person’s hearing.”

The research is important to consumers, Callaway said. “Aside from being of extremely poor quality, very low-cost hearing aids - those under $100 - have the potential to damage your hearing because they send very loud sounds into the ear. The study’s mid-range hearing aids ($100-500) were of higher quality and were not considered a safety hazard.”

The authors state in their article that aids costing $100 to $500 often control the amount of sound sent into the ear better, but without a precise and knowledge-based fitting of the device by an audiologist, consumers can expect to experience hit-or-miss success, Punch said. “Based on the research, the best advice for consumers is to talk to an audiologist. Because hearing aids have complex technical features, they need to be fitted and customized to the individual.”

The study measured how well the electronic features of the devices could compensate for commonly occurring types of hearing loss, employing methods that audiologists use to fit conventional hearing aids - a process audiologists call prescriptive fitting. Specifically, the researchers found that only a few of the aids they studied met the basic fitting requirements, and, for the few that did, that was true only for a specific degree of hearing loss.

“Currently, more than 32 million people have a hearing impairment, yet only about 25 percent of those use hearing aids,” Punch said. “Meanwhile, the aging population is growing - and hearing loss becomes more common as we become older.”

Although the Food and Drug Administration officially regulates hearing aids, those regulations are not enforced for low-cost amplifying devices that are sold through mail order and on the Internet, Punch said. He thinks that people with hearing loss should have more information about these devices.

The research was funded by the Oticon Foundation, and equipment was provided by Frye Electronics of Oregon for the duration of study.

Callaway is first author on the paper, which was part of her master’s thesis for her degree in audiology at the University of Copenhagen. She is currently completing the requirements for a doctorate degree at Western Michigan University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Not All Hearing Aids Are Created Equal." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080813164634.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2008, August 14). Not All Hearing Aids Are Created Equal. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080813164634.htm
Michigan State University. "Not All Hearing Aids Are Created Equal." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080813164634.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) A look inside Monrovia's Island Hospital, a key treatment centre in the fight against Ebola in Liberia's capital city. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) The Ebola outbreak is putting stress on first responders in Liberia. Ambulance drivers say they are struggling with chronic shortages of safety equipment and patients who don't want to go to the hospital. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak

Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) After the announcement that the first U.S. patient had been diagnosed with Ebola, doctors were quick to say a U.S. outbreak is highly unlikely. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
TX Hospital Confirms Patient Admitted With Ebola

TX Hospital Confirms Patient Admitted With Ebola

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) Medical officials from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital confirm they are treating a patient with the Ebola virus, the first case found in the US. (Sept. 30 Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins