If you think you or a loved one might have a hearing loss, this page is all about possible solutions you can consider.
Think of this as a quick-start guide that covers the various options available, including specific benefits and drawbacks.
Let’s get started with some simple questions:
- How much hearing have you lost? How quickly have you lost it?
- Does your hearing seriously impact your lifestyle or is it just an inconvenience?
- How active is your lifestyle? Does your hearing need a little help or a lot of help?
- How big (or small) is your budget?
- Is the personal, one-on-one touch important or are you happy to work with a corporation and speak to different people?
Keep your answers in mind as you go through the list.
But first, there’s one more important consideration: a hearing assessment can definitively tell you if you have a hearing loss or not. An ear examination may also determine the cause of any hearing loss. These simple procedures will help you determine what you need because you’ll have the advice and expertise of a professional audiologist to guide you.
That’s why you should seriously consider booking a hearing assessment to clarify just how serious your hearing loss is and the best treatment for your unique situation.
Now moving on to the list itself …
The “Quick List” of Hearing Loss Treatments in Utah
Depending on your preferences and needs, there are a variety of options ranging from low to high budget, including:
- Earphones and Cell Phone Apps [Free – $250]
- Over-the-Counter Hearing (OTC) Aids [$800 – $1,000]
- PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplification Products) [$79 – $1,250]
- Online Hearing Aids with Audiological Remote Support [$1,850 – $2,400]
- Big Box Retail Stores [$1,250 – $4,000]
- Audiology Clinic [$2,500 – $7,800]
- Hearing Loss Surgery (Cochlear Implants) [$30,000 – $50,000]
Let’s take a closer look at each one:
#1 – Earphones and Cell Phone Apps
Does your hearing loss seem mild? Are you short of money?
If your answer to both questions is yes, there are a variety of apps on Apple’s App Store and on Google Play that amplify your earphone volume.
Here’s how these apps work: they increase the microphone volume on your phone or tablet across all the sounds it picks up.
One iPhone example is “Chatable,” which is free to download. Chatable offers 99 minutes of free listening per month before requiring a $59.99 annual subscription.
There are similar apps for Android phones on Google Play that work pretty much the same way. You can try them for free and then pay for a subscription.
For these apps to work, you must have earbuds or wired or wireless headphones connected to your cell phone. You simply position your phone to pick up conversations with the elevated volume.
If amplification doesn’t give you the results you want, consider speech-to-text apps which transcribe spoken words into text you can read on your phone. The accuracy is dependent on background noise and how clearly people speak. Strong accents may also pose a problem.
Speech-to-text apps follow the same free-to-try-and-then-pay business model as amplification apps. You have nothing to lose to see if you can benefit from either simple amplification or speech-to-text.
- These apps are the cheapest options available, as they’re largely free and require low-cost subscriptions after their trial period.
- You likely own a phone, tablet, and pair of earbuds or headphones already.
- Background noise will severely degrade app effectiveness.
- You must wear headphones or earbuds with your phone or tablet positioned nearby – this might be awkward or impossible in certain hearing environments.
- The technology isn’t customized to your hearing loss.
- There’s no support – you’re on your own.
Software apps like these may help in specific circumstances, but they’re not likely to offer much benefit if you suffer from anything more than a very mild hearing loss.
#2 – Over-The-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids
In 2017, the federal government passed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act. This gave consumers greater access to affordable hearing aids.
However, things pushed ahead further in August 2022 when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final ruling to help consumers with mild to moderate hearing losses purchase hearing aids directly from stores or online retailers.
No medical exam, prescription, or fitting adjustment by an audiologist is required, so an over-the-counter (OTC) device can be purchased without a hearing assessment of any kind. You must fit them yourself and tweak the sound settings by using the accompanying phone app.
However, that’s the limit of their functionality. OTC hearing aids are a lot like earphones connected to a cell phone app as described above. The major difference is that they’re less bulky than headphones and look a lot more like hearing aids.
We cover this category more fully in this article here if you want more information.
- You can find OTC hearing aids easily, as they’re available in many retail stores.
- They can be purchased at home while online.
- They’re cheap.
- OTC hearing aids aren’t tailored to your hearing loss and may not help you at all.
- You won’t learn anything about the degree (or cause) of your hearing loss, as there’s no testing available.
- The “one-size-fits-all” design means potential discomfort and poor performance.
- You’re unlikely to receive any support outside of your 90-day returns period and few OTC devices are likely to have any useful warranty.
OTC hearing aids offer more help than phone apps but remain generic options that won’t address your unique needs.
#3 – PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplification Products)
A PSAP (Personal Sound Amplification Product) is yet another amplification tool. These are not genuine alternatives to hearing aids.
That’s because even though hearing aids and PSAPs both amplify sound, hearing aids are intended to compensate for impaired hearing while PSAPs are intended for people with normal hearing to amplify sounds in certain situations.
This makes them simply a variation of phone apps without the phone (or earbuds or headphones). They’ll work for very mild hearing losses and that’s about it. You get “one-size-fits-all” amplification with little room for adjustments.
One more thing: because such PSAPs are regulated as consumer electronics and not medical devices, the product quality is quite variable relative to hearing aids.
- PSAPs are easy to purchase either online or in-person in a retail store.
- They’re cheap and are often priced from $79.99.
- PSAPs aren’t tailored to your hearing loss and have the rest of the disadvantages of OTC hearing aids and phone apps.
PSAPs may assist you in certain situations but aren’t effective long-term solutions.
#4 – Online Hearing Aids with Audiological Remote Support/Direct-To-Consumer
There are plenty of ads offering access to online hearing technology and audiology service support.
You don’t have to visit a doctor, the prices seem reasonable, and it’s so convenient because you don’t have to leave home.
However, online hearing assessments are not as fine-tuned or as accurate as those performed in a professional audiologist’s laboratory. You also don’t receive a physical examination, either. This means you won’t be aware of earwax buildup or other blockages in your ear canal that may be causing your issues.
What’s more, direct-to-customer online solutions only offer minor adjustments to your hearing aid through a cell phone app or a video call with one of their online audiologists. They can match commonly used gain and slope hearing loss targets, but these aren’t personalized to your specific hearing loss.
- The service and device is easy to purchase online.
- You don’t have to leave your computer, so everything is very convenient.
- You’ll receive hearing technology offered by a reputable manufacturer.
- You’ll usually get a money-back guarantee.
- An online hearing assessment is often inaccurate, and this will mean your device will be programmed incorrectly.
- Since no one looks into your ears, earwax or other blockages will go undiscovered as the true reasons for your hearing loss.
- There’s no in-person support, help, or attention nor any insurance benefits either.
- You won’t be able to build a relationship with a specific audiologist, as you often speak to a different audiologist each time with these services.
A direct-to-consumer online service can be a good option for you if your hearing loss isn’t severe and fits a standard profile that can be tested online.
Online-only services work for some people but not for others.
#5 – Big Box Retail Stores (Costco/Sam’s Club, Etc.)
You can also visit your local Costco, Sam’s Club, or similar big box retailer if it offers an internal hearing aid center.
We discuss the main advantages and disadvantages here in a full article, but overall this type of service is a big step in the right direction.
You’ll receive a professional hearing screening to understand your level of hearing loss, plus you’ll be offered their own Kirkland-branded hearing aids or devices from other reputable manufacturers.
These services aren’t cheap, but the technology is high quality, and you’ll receive a professional fitting by a trained hearing aid dispenser. You’ll also be protected by a warranty that varies from 1 to 3 years depending on where you purchase.
However, the retail environment sometimes means a long wait before you receive follow-up care and support. This means that replacing lost or damaged devices can also be a time-consuming process.
- You’ll get a hearing screening and an in-person fitting.
- You’ll get professional technology protected by a warranty.
- You can return for help, device cleaning, and other support as needed.
- You don’t receive a comprehensive or advanced hearing assessment which could pinpoint the real source of your problem.
- There’s no ongoing service and getting a support appointment sometimes means a long wait.
- You can’t use your insurance.
- Payment plans are not available.
- A store membership fee is often required.
#6 – Audiological Care within a Clinic
This is the most traditional approach because you visit a professional audiologist with a fully equipped audiology lab. That means you’ll receive a comprehensive hearing assessment that checks your hearing levels and your overall hearing health too.
Your audiologist then explores your options.
This helps you make the most informed decision about which level of technology makes the most sense for you. This includes access to the latest hearing aid technology without limitations, plus ongoing support and care with cleanings, readjustments, and any repairs as needed.
Your devices will usually come with extended warranties and protection, and of course your hearing health is the key priority throughout the process.
You can also take advantage of your insurance or payment plans if you wish.
- You’re personally treated by a professional audiologist and receive ongoing in-person care.
- You’re fitted with the latest technology from a leading manufacturer, complete with a full warranty and other protections.
- You can use your insurance, and payment plans are also available.
- Because you’re working with a small business rather than a large corporation, you’re one of a small number of valued patients.
- You have to attend multiple appointments to get the full benefits of a truly professional service.
#7 – Hearing Loss Surgery (Cochlear Implants)
Do you have a truly severe hearing loss? If so, a cochlear implant may be your best option despite the high cost.
A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device surgically embedded in your cochlea (inner ear). It converts sounds into electrical impulses for your brain to interpret and essentially replaces your natural cochlea.
You’re a candidate for this operation only if you have a hearing loss in both ears that’s so severe it can’t be addressed by traditional hearing aids. When you have very little natural hearing remaining, a cochlear implant may be your only option.
However, the operation can cost between $30,000 and $50,000. While this is often covered by insurance, any extras may not be covered.
- This may be the only viable solution for you if you have a severe hearing loss.
- Your insurance may cover your initial operation.
- The implanted device will be fitted to your specific needs.
- Surgery may be a stressful and even frightening prospect for you.
- The operation will cost between $30,000 and $50,000.
- You will not be able to undergo MRI tests or certain other medical procedures in the vicinity of your head because of the metal parts in your implant.
- The surgery might eliminate any remaining residual hearing you still have.
- Your insurance might not cover replacement parts such as batteries.
As one of the only audiology clinics in Utah to offer this service, you can find out more about cochlear implants by clicking here.
How Do You Decide?
Hopefully, you now have a solid grasp of the hearing treatment options available to you.
Are you ready to take the next step?
Our professional audiologists are available in Bountiful, Tooele, Park City, and West Valley City.
You can also schedule an appointment if you like.
Just let us know how we can help. We’re here to ensure you enjoy a better and more confident life with the right hearing solution that meets your special needs.