MDHearingAids provide an affordable option for those who need hearing aids.
Over the years, my hearing ability has decreased. I didn’t really know how bad it was until I realized that family and friends were making jokes about me. It’s really no laughing matter. For years, I’ve not been able to hear birds chirping, cicadas singing, turn signals beeping or lots of other high-pitch sounds. When we watch TV in the evening, I would have to turn the volume up extremely high (and it’s a high-quality surround system) just to partially understand what was going on. It’s a very frustrating lifestyle to have to ask people to repeat themselves over and over again.
At one point, I visited an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist hoping that maybe I just had excess earwax build-up that needed to be cleaned out. I clean my ears nightly so I didn’t really think this was a strong possibility, but I was hoping for a ‘quick fix’ to my problem. Unfortunately, the ENT gave me a clean bill of health as far as the ear wax goes, but also administered a hearing test and informed me that I had some pretty profound hearing loss that focused on the high-end range of sounds. I was told that my best option for reclaiming a mostly normal lifestyle again was to look into hearing aids. Both of my ears suffered from the same type of loss/damage and I was told that I would need hearing assistance in both ears to really make a difference.
Once you lose your hearing it never comes back. There is no magical fix and not even the best pair of hearing aids will correct the damage. What they will do is help prevent it from getting worse in some cases. The human brain adapts to the loss of sounds and has been known to be a case with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and some other mental illnesses including depression. I was in my 20s when I visited the ENT for the first time and I knew I was in trouble.
It’s been more than 15 years since I visited the ENT and I still haven’t found a fix for my hearing problem. I find myself turning the car radio and TV up much louder than ever before and even find myself isolating myself from get togethers because I can’t understand what is going on and can’t have good conversations because I can’t hear someone that’s right next to me. You may be asking, “Why haven’t you gotten yourself hearing aids?” The answer is very simple. They are expensive.
If you’ve never had to look into hearing aids, you might think that they are easily obtained and that because they are a medical device, insurance will cover them. That is an incorrect assumption. Most insurance providers will not cover the cost of hearing aids. Period. And the majority of hearing aid brands/models range in price from $1000-4000 per ear. So, if you are like me and need a pair of hearing aids, you could easily spend up to $8000 on a set of tiny, fragile hearing aids. On top of that, most hearing aid companies do not have a payment arrangement process. You have to finance it through other means. So, on top of the cost of the hearing aids, you end up also paying for interest on the loan or credit card you purchased the devices on.
So, my struggle is indeed real. Over the years, I’ve looked into different programs and saved money, but the hearing aids have eluded me.
Why Beltone Isn’t Helpful
My firsthand knowledge of this process may help others in the same boat as me so I am going to explain a little bit about how the hearing aid sales places like Beltone work. Last year, I finally broke down and visited a local Beltone office. Despite reading some bad reviews, I decided that I desperately wanted my hearing back. So, I ventured to the Beltone office and was greeted by a receptionist and then led to an office by the sales person who was also the one testing my hearing. This person was not and audiologist. After testing my hearing, he said, “Ok. I definitely think you would benefit from a hearing aid so let me get you fitted with one and then we will discuss payment options.” Basically, they tempt you with the ability to hear – the thing you want most – and then pressure you into purchasing the devices. Even though I realized what was going on, I found myself paying for the hearing aids on a credit card.
Once fitted I walked outside and heard birds for the first time in almost a decade. It was AMAZING! Tears were actually streaming down my eyes as I got into the car. The seat belt ding went off and I asked, “What was that noise?” I hadn’t heard it in so long that I had forgotten. I got home and heard the dogs as they walked across the kitchen floor. For about 3 hours after I got home, I was experiencing life anew with the help of the hearing aids. Then suddenly, they stopped working. The devices started hissing and crackling and no adjustment I made was helping. I tried new batteries, but that didn’t help either. I was extremely disappointed and decided to have them looked at by Beltone. I was told that they would have to send them off for repair. Since I didn’t want to wait for months for them to be returned to me, I simply asked for a refund on my purchase since I had less that 5 hours of use out of the hearing aids.
Needless to say, the store rep was not happy and even tried to lie to me about returning them. I had to pull up a page pretty much hidden on the Beltone website just to be able to get them returned and the money refunded. I knew I would never use their service again. I also knew that my journey of no hearing would continue.
Some time after this experience, I called ENTs and audiologists in my area to ask what their process was for getting someone fitted for hearing aids. They, of course, take a clinical approach and medically look for reasons for the hearing loss and properly test your hearing. They don’t automatically try to sell you hearing aids when you sit down. It’s a process. I would recommend that if you have hearing loss that you go this route rather than going to a place that sells hearing aids. Every place I called had low opinions of Beltone and places like that because they are only looking to sell.
MDHearingAid to the Rescue
Since my Beltone experience, I have tried generic hearing amplifiers and Bluetooth headsets that claim to assist with hearing, but they simply don’t work the same way a genuine hearing aid does. Then, about a month ago, I was introduced to MDHearingAid.
MDHearingAid was designed to help people with hearing loss have an affordable option for hearing aids. Developed by board-certified Ear, Nose, and Throat physician, Dr. Sreekant Cherukuri, MDHearingAids are a medical grade FDA approved hearing aid that is sleek, lightweight and includes the same advanced digital technology found in other hearing aids. Dr. Cherukuri became frustrated with treating patients who could benefit from the use of a hearing aid but couldn’t afford one. So, his mission became one of making quality, affordable digital hearing aids for all people who need them.
MDHearingAids have three versions for users – PRO, AIR, and VOLT. Each version is designed to be virtually invisible and range in price from $199 per ear (PRO) to $550 per ear (VOLT). They do of course have package prices if you buy a pair instead of separately. That is far better price than you will likely find anywhere. Now, one thing I want to point out is that they do not work with smartphones. Some hearing aids give you the ability to program, adjust, and even listen to music through a smartphone, but MDHearingAids do not. The PRO And AIR models have a telecoil setting that can wirelessly link the aid to a smarphone or landline, but that only allows you to talk through the phone easily. The VOLT does not have this feature. In fact, you can’t use a mobile phone with the VOLT model because of interference and feedback. You either have to take out the hearing aids or talk using a speakerphone feature. This is not unusual for hearing aids and certainly not unique to the VOLT. The PRO and AIR models do have the telecoil that allows you to talk through a mobile phone easily.
I decided to go with the VOLT as it was the newest of the three models they sell and was rechargeable. I don’t like having to replace batteries all the time and much prefer my devices be rechargeable. When they arrived, they were each packaged separately – one for each ear. Each hearing aid comes with a small carrying pouch – like something you would see with a set of earbuds – and a charging cable.
The design of the aids is pretty standard with what you see with most other hearing aids. The microphone/amplifying piece rests behind your ear while the tube and earpiece roll over the top of your ear and rest inside your ear canal. If you’ve ever tried earbud style headphones, they are very similar to that. They are lightweight, sturdy, and practically invisible – just as advertised.
Needless to say, I was nervous the first time I tried them on. Would they work like other hearing aids? Would they be more like an amplification earbud? Would I be able to hear the birds?
Once I had them in place, I stepped outside to see what I could hear. I could hear everything. The sound is AMAZING! It was like my experience wearing hearing aids for the first time was recreated all over again. I didn’t have to adjust them too much and they fit in my ear canals very well. I could hear so much. I quickly found that I needed to turn the audio level down just a bit because it was completely overwhelming.
I stepped outside after they had fully charged and waited for the birds to chirp. That night no birds were out, but I did hear the cicadas and they were going crazy! The next day I went out early in the day and I was able to hear the birds again. It was grand. Trying to explain to people that you could not hear these sounds before is tough. People don’t understand how bad it truly is not being able to hear. You also find out how much you have been missing in life once you can hear again.
It Takes Practice
Now, don’t think getting them and sticking them in your ear is the be all end all. That is not the case at all. It takes time for your brain to adjust to the sounds – to know what is background noise and what is not. The first full day I had them, I went to a pizza restaurant. It was way too much for me at once. I would liken it to Spiderman finding out he has super powers for the first time. You can hear everything and your brain isn’t used to processing it all. It’s best to go slowly and wear them for short periods of time at first – gradually increasing the amount you wear them so that you get used to them completely.
There are four different settings you can choose from that work with the ambient noise in your surroundings along with the volume control. During my restaurant trip, I tried them all including turning them almost all the way down. I eventually had to take them out of my ears because all the kids screaming and plates moving and hitting tables I just could not handle it. After a few days had passed, I started to adjust more to the different sounds and have been able to find the right volume level while out and about. I also have found that the other settings have really helped me in different environments. My advice to anyone trying out MDHearingAids is to give them a full 21-day trial period before deciding if they are for you or not. MDHearingAids gives you a 45-day refund period and they do that because it takes time and practice to adjust to having your hearing again. I’m a little more than 20 days in and have been able to adjust very well.
What about Service and Warranties?
One of my big questions about these hearing aids had to do with how they are serviced and what kind of customer service is available. MDHearingAids are not waterproof and in fact, they suggest that if you sweat excessively, that you remove them. It’s important to take good care of these hearing aids because they truly become a lifeline. As a part of my review of the MDHearingAids, I contacted customer service to discuss warranty and servicing options. I found that they have customer service available 24/7, but service and support is only available during regular business hours. You can ask some basic questions to customer service, but anything that requires real service is best held for when support personnel are actually available. The nice thing is that both customer service and support are located in the U.S. So, you can easily talk to someone over the phone. This is important for me, someone who has issues with hearing in general.
As far as repairs go, I asked specifically about the VOLT. The main thing with this set is the rechargeable battery. It gets about 500 charges to it and then the batteries and/or hearing aids have to be replaced. It’s approximately $100 per ear to have the hearing aid replaced/repaired. They do also offer an extended warranty for $180, which covers repairs and replacements for 1-year from the date of purchase. It covers everything except loss. In my opinion, it’s worth it considering that you can continue renewing it every year for life. It’s a much better option than what some hearing aid companies will offer.
When I first heard about MDHearingAids and saw their advertisements in my newspaper and other brochures, I thought it might be like other As Seen On TV products. I am SO glad that I was mistaken about that. These are real hearing aids with real results. I can hear the birds and carry on conversations for the first time in years. MDHearingAids are a true godsend. If you have been in need of assistance, I would suggest giving MDHearingAids a try. They are impressive and they work!