Telling it like it is, from Duke University

DURHAM, N.C., June 5 (UPI) -- A Duke University study suggests hearing aids are underused, with only 1-in-5 people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually owning one.

Although hearing loss can contribute to strained relationships with family and friends, depression and even a deterioration of basic well-being, of the 1-in-5 owning a hearing aid, only one-third use them.

The findings stem from a literature review conducted by the Medical Technology Assessment Working Group at Duke University.

Approximately 6 million people in the United States use a hearing aid, most for treating moderate hearing loss, but 35 percent to 50 percent of hearing aid users are not satisfied, the study found.

The Duke scientists suggest hearing aids are being underused, in part, because of social attitudes reflecting misunderstandings about hearing loss, including the belief that hearing loss is inevitable later in life.

"One area of critical need is understanding the barriers to hearing aid use that contribute to irregular use of hearing devices by those who have them," said Professor Linda George, leader of the study. "Until these areas are better understood, continued innovations in hearing aid devices will be hampered."


Interesting hearing loss facts

- Hearing loss is the number one disability in the world.

- Hearing loss is the most preventable disability in the world.

- Number of people who need hearing aids: 25 million

- Number of people who own hearing aids: 5 million

- 15 of every 1000 people under age 18 have a hearing loss.

- Nearly 90% of people over age 80 have a hearing loss.

- The hearing aid is the second most widely used assistive technological device after the walking cane.

- 3 out of 100 school children are affected by hearing impairment.

- Barry Manilow was recently sued for giving a concert-goer a noise-induced hearing loss. He settled the suit by donating $5,000 to the American Tinnitus Association.

- Percentage of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who are hearing-impaired: 60%

- Former President Ronald Reagan incurred a noise-induced hearing loss from firing pistols in the movies.

- Etiology:

- Noise: 33.7%

- Age: 28%

- Infection or injury: 17.1%

- Birth: 4.4%

- The famous Siamese twins, Cheng and Eng, who toured the U.S. in the 50s, had a "trilateral" (3 out of 4 ears) hearing loss due to noise exposure during hunting.
- Percentage of people who lose their hearing before age 3: 5.4%

- Percentage of people who lose their hearing between 3 and 18: 14.2%

- Percentage of people who lose their hearing at age 19 and over: 76.3%

- Every seven seconds, a baby boomer turns 50.

- As a result of the aging population, between 1990 and 2050 the number of hearing-impaired Americans will increase at a faster rate than the total U.S. population.

Source: bhNews listerve

Interesting hearing loss facts

Dismal Hearing Statistics

We list four dismal statistics of hearing aid sales that provides insight to what is wrong with the current protocol of dispensing hearing aids:

  1. Only 20% of those who could benefit from hearing aids use them. This means millions of consumers do not have hearing aids but could benefit from them. ( Home page, bottom.)

  2. Empirical data indicates that nearly 20% of workable hearing aids lie in bureau drawers, factoring to 100,000's of unused aids. ( home page, bottom)

  3. An article in the Hearing Review (January 2002, page 22) showed responses to a survey by those who sell hearing aids. Hearing aids were returned by 8.6% of the patients. The significance of this is not that these consumers did not need hearing aids; rather it clearly shows the benefit of the hearing aid did not outweigh the cost of their hearing loss. Is this the fault of the seller? My guess is a resounding yes. Assuming the hearing aids worked as manufactured, why would anyone refuse a hearing aid that benefited them? If we could pick these off a store shelf and try them, we’d be satisfied.

  4. Over 2/3 of the states have laws allowing an audiologist to keep up to 10% of retail cost of any hearing aid returned during a trial period. California has a law that explicitly requires all money to be returned when a hearing aid is returned during the trial period. From
    If the buyer returns the device within the 30-day period, the seller is required, without charge and within a reasonable time, to adjust, repair or replace the device. If, after the adjustment, repair or replacement, the device is still not specifically fit for the buyer's particular needs, the device may be returned for a refund of the total amount paid including all payments and any trade-in exchanged as part of the transaction.
    All states ought to have this.

The life of a hearing aid

The life of a hearing aid is estimated to be 3 to 5 years, usually because of a decrease in the person's hearing.

Re-posted from hearling loss group

(The following is a re-post from a hearing loss group. I don't know the identity of the author)

I find the idea of Costco selling hearing aids very interesting. The
hearing aid business has a rather poor ( or should I say rip-off)
reputation, while Costco is and extremely ethical company. Does
anyone know if the hearing aid department at Costco is run by Costco or
is it a lease department?

As for the skill level of audiologists: My neighbor's wife was bugging
him about getting a hearing aid. So he went to an audiologist, not a
hearing aid store, and got two digital hearing aids for a total of
$7,500. He went back several time to get them adjusted or
re-programmed and finially gave up. He said that the hearing aids were
almost useless because they amplified the background noise along with
the voices, so you really couldn't use them in a room with any noise or
where there were other people talking. To make a long stroy short,
after about 6 month he put those $7,500 hearing aids in a drawer and
hasn't used them since. The audiologist made a killing on that deal, at
the expense of my neighbor. I don't know about you, but I have a
problem with that.

While I am on my soap box, there are a couple more things that bother
me. First, If I buy a Brand Name hearing aid from "Joe audiologist",
if I have a problem while it is under warranty I have to take it back
to "Joe". If I am on vacation of working out of town and I take it to
a dealer that sells the same brand of hearing aid, that place is going
to charge me to service or re-program it or whatever. If I have a car
or tires for my car or a cell phone and I have trouble while I am out
of town, all I have to do is go to a dealer for that product and all of
the service is covered under warranty. Why is that?

The other thing that bothers me is: I have a couple friends (man and
wife) that are audiologists at a univeristy in France. These people
are at the top of their profession. They speak, and hold clinics all
over the world. Late last year I mentioned in an email that I was
thinking about getting a hearing aid and ask if they had any advise for
me. Their answer was that if I wanted a hearing aid to wait until I
was in Europe to buy one. She said that what I will save by buying it
in Europe will pay for my airfare over there and back. How can hearing
aids be sold in Europe for that much less then they are being sold for
in the US. I don't know, maybe the oil companies run the hearing aid
business in the US.

I have been in electronics all my life. I have noticed that as
technology advances the quallity of any given product improves and the
price drops dramatically. Your PC is a good example of that. However,
that economic principle appearently does not apply to hearing aids.
The price doesn't drop.

I would hope that the hearing aid business becomes more like the PC
business where you buy your computer one place, get the software
another place and get your Internet service at a third place. That way
you can shop for price for each item.

Hearing aids in Europe

I don't know that this is true or not, but I have read and hears from other people that the same hearing aid you buy here in the USA sells for 1/2 to 1/3 the price in Europe.

The catch to that deal is when you are back in the good old USA and if your hearing aid need service or re-programming, the local hearing aid person is really going to "sock-it-to-you".

However, there is hope. I understand that they are now selling hearing aids in Europe that you can program yourself.

Hearing aids in Europe

There are many FREE hearing tests available

If you look around (check the phone book and the Sunday Newspaper) you will be able to find places that offer FREE HEARING TESTS. Costco stores that have hearing departments offer Free Hearing Tests. So do Sam's Club stores that have hearing departments. Also many small hearing aid dealers will offer Free Tests.

Now, don't get sucked into one of these deals where they charge you for the hearing test up front and then refund the price of the test when you buy a hearing aid. Only go for the totalyy FREE Hearing Tests.


You may get some high pressure to "just try the hearing aid" or "Just wear it home" but don't do it. Have an excuse ready. Here are some good ones:

"My doctor wanted to see the test result first"

"I want to send the test results to my cousin who is an audiologists at the University of Toronto " (or some place far away).

"I need to take to my husband (or wife) about it first"

I don't have time today, I have a doctors appointment"

If you want to take a real simple hearing test online click on this link:

Exhobibant Profits

A good digital aid costs under $100 to make, and is sold to the
audiologist or dispenser for $1000-1100, who packages it with
diagnostics, audiometry, earmold, fitting, etc. and sells it for
$2500-3300. That represents 250% to 300% profit.

Keep in mind that many if not most hearing aids are sold to older people on fixed limited incomes.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?