Can You Hear Me Now? When Do You Need a Hearing Aid? Patrick Freuler, Founder/CEO of Audicus

As a member of the sandwich generation there are so many times when you run into friends, colleagues and family who have hearing issues. While a small amount of hearing loss can be dealt with on a short term basis, as hearing loss progresses, things get worse as the person who is suffering hearing loss cranks up the TV, shouts when having phone conversation and can’t keep a secret because they can’t hear what the person is saying. The trick is getting the person in question to understand something needs to be done so that they can get back integration into normal person-to-person interactions that might have fallen by the wayside.

Seeking to help answer the tons of questions about this seemingly simple– but often fraught with social landmines- situation is Patrick Freuler, Founder and CEO of Audicus.

LA-Story.com:
1) People don’t realize that they are losing their hearing. How can they find out if they need to see a doctor?
2) What are the signs/symptoms of hearing loss?

Patrick Freuler:
Most people will come up with every excuse possible to avoid the fact that they have hearing loss. Often times they will blame it on someone else mumbling or having “selective hearing” but there are some common signs of hearing loss such as:
-Constantly asking your friends and family to repeat things said in a casual conversational setting
-Having to turn up the television set to a volume that creates discomfort for others
-Missing entire portions of conversation at the dinner table without realizing it
– Not being able to understand women’s or children’s voices (higher frequencies)
-Not being able to distinguish conversation from background noise at restaurants or in loud spaces

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LAS:
3) What are the causes of hearing loss?

PF:
There are many things that can cause hearing loss, but the two most common causes are noise-induced hearing loss and age-induced hearing loss. The former can be caused by someone being exposed to loud sounds over an extended amount of time or just one sound so loud it damages the ear. This can stem from a noisy workplace or from going to too many loud concerts.

The other kind, sensorineural hearing loss, is most often caused by old age. This is the more common type of hearing loss and can develop slowly over time.

Hearing loss can also be due to an ear infection, genetic reasons or a build-up of earwax.

LAS:
4) Is hearing loss age related? What about younger people?

PF:
Yes and no. Most often, hearing loss is a result of aging, but younger people can also have hearing loss. It depends on what type of hearing loss someone has: conductive or sensorineural. Someone can be born with hearing loss, develop it as they grow up, or develop it in their later years.

LAS:
5) What can be done to remedy the loss or diminution?

PF:
Prevention is the best medicine. Being aware of the sounds around you will help prevent hearing loss in your future. The truth is, today’s world is getting louder and louder. Any sound that is above 85 decibels can cause damage to your hearing over time. To put this in perspective, a standard pair of headphones can produce up to 110 decibels of sound! One easy way to prevent hearing loss in your future is to monitor the volume at which you listen to your music when using headphones.

Certain foods have recently been proven to lower your risk of hearing loss. Researcher has found that women who eat fish at least two times a week have a 20% lower risk of having hearing loss. This has to do with the large amounts omega-3s that are in fish.

LAS:
6) Why are hearing aids so expensive?

PF:
This is one of the most common questions amongst our customers. Hearing aids are traditionally sold at an audiology clinic for $7,000 per pair and aren’t covered by insurance. However, the cost to produce a pair of hearing aids is closer to $500! The reason for this price discrepancy is markups, which help audiologists cover their high overhead costs.

The hearing aid industry has not been disrupted until now, so hearing aid prices have continued to rise for decades, while prices of other electronic devices have lowered.

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LAS:
7) Are there differences in brands? If so, what are general differences in hearing aids that people should be looking for?

PF:
There are many differences between brands of hearing aids but what people should really look out for is what type of hearing aid will support their hearing loss. Some hearing aids are stronger than others, depending on how severe a person’s hearing loss is, it will change which device will work best for them. It is important to speak with a trained professional before purchasing a hearing aid to make sure that it can fully support your hearing loss.

A common misconception for first time hearing aid users is the difference between amplifiers and hearing aids. Amplifiers increase the volume of all sounds that your ear is picking up naturally. The issue is, if you have severe hearing loss, this may not be very many sounds. Because amplifiers are not programmed to a person’s specific hearing loss, they are significantly less expensive but also often times not nearly as effective. Hearing aids on the other hand are programmed based on a person’s audiogram to pick up the sounds that they cannot naturally hear themselves due to hearing loss.

LAS:
8) I have heard from people I know about hearing aids buzzing or being difficult to hear things on the phone. What can be done about that?

PF:
The buzzing that people have mentioned to you is probably referring to tinnitus, a condition where someone will experience constant ringing in the ears. There is no cure for tinnitus but it can be somewhat helped with hearing aids that produce white noise. This drowns out the ringing in their ears and greatly reduces the constant buzzing sound that is happening.

For phone use, our Audicus hearing aids work very well with cellular phones or land-line phones. Hearing aids can help with speech discrimination, (how the ear interprets the words that people are saying and not just the sound). Because over the phone it is often times difficult to distinguish words, hearing aids can help separate sounds and increase clarity of speech.

LAS:
9) Tell me about Audicus. Can people really buy hearing aids online?

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PF:
100% yes, and we have many existing customers all over the United States and the world to vouch for it. Buying a hearing aid online is not as scary as it sounds. Do you remember when eyeglasses and contact lenses first became available online and everyone was skeptical? It changed the way people thought about the whole process because they knew that they could save people money and get them a product that was just as good without the overhead fees.

We have award-winning products that are among the best in the industry and an incredible support team. As a result our return rates are half of what a typical audiologist would see in the clinic. In order to buy hearing aids online, my best recommendation is to visit Audicus.com and/or give us a call. Our customer support team is there to help explain to people the different features of hearing aids and what they can do to improve their hearing. I also recommend visiting an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor or audiology clinic to get a test done, so you can submit the test to us for a recommendation.

LAS:
10) What is the process to finding the right hearing aid online?

PF:
The first step in our process is for the user to send us an official hearing test taken from within the past year. They can obtain one by making an appointment with an audiologist, ENT, or we heard of some customers having success by visiting a wholesale club. Once they have a copy of their hearing test, they can either e-mail it to us at
test@audicus.com or fax it to 888-498-5366.

When we receive it, one of our customer representatives will either call or email the customer to discuss the best hearing aid options based on their test results. We will recommend a specific device based on the level of hearing loss as well as other information noted the customer’s audiogram. After we have connected, the user can make a purchase through our website or over the phone with one of our representatives. As soon as that happens, our in house audiologist will get to work programming the hearing aid specifically for the customer!

LAS:
11) Are there any situations where doing it online is problematic?

PF:
As long as the hearing test received has been taken from the last year and accurately displays a person’s hearing loss, our hearing aids are programmed by our in-house audiologist just like they would be at a local clinic.

LAS:
12) What should someone expect in terms of making the hearing aid work and how to make sure it fits correctly?

PF:
Regarding the fit of your hearing aid, there are two pieces to it: the physical fit and the programming fit. On the former, we always include different-sized tubes and earbuds with every hearing aid that the user can easily swap in/out (similar to modern music headsets). It’s a highly customizable “plug-and-play” solution that gives the user a lot of control over the comfort level inside the ear.

For the programming fit (i.e. the amplification and filtering settings that need to be programmed into the hearing aid), we have an audiologist do this at our office based on the hearing test results that we obtain from our customers. Every hearing aid that is shipped out of our office has been custom-programmed to the user’s hearing loss.

This has worked extremely well so far, we have a return rate that is HALF of that of an audiologist office.

Making the hearing aid work is simple because once you receive it; it is already programmed to your hearing loss. All you need to do is simply insert the batteries and put the hearing aid in your ear!

LAS:
13) How is the Audicus website set up to teach people how to use a hearing aid, how to order a hearing aid?
14) Do you help people troubleshoot using their hearing aid?

PF:
We have recently re-launched out website to make is even easier for our visitors to navigate how to order a hearing aid. On the Audicus website you have a few different tools that help users along the road to getting and using hearing aids. First you have the Audicus Wizard, which teaches visitors how to read their audiogram and look at how severe their hearing loss is. This is meant to empower the user and help us to be completely transparent about how severe their hearing loss is and which of our devices would be best for them. We also provide detailed online and physical manuals for our hearing aids that are designed to be user friendly and very thorough as to how to operate and use our hearing aids.

Most importantly are our customer service representatives. We have a chat box on our website with customer service representatives on the other end, ready to help answer questions. We also have a customer service phone line (888.979.6918) where we have representatives ready from 9:00amEST – 8:00pmEST Monday – Sunday to help answer questions if you are a new user or an existing customer. Especially for the generation of boomers, we find that this help line is super helpful and helps reinforce to our users that we are real people who are working with you to find the best hearing aid for your hearing loss. For troubleshooting, the phone line is a useful tool to help walk customers through even the most basic questions like, how do I turn on my hearing aid.

LAS:
15) Are there accessories? What kind of warranty or exchange policies?

PF:
Our most popular accessory is the Bluetooth Remote. This allows hearing aid users to connect their hearing devices directly to their Bluetooth compatible cell phone or to their home television set using a transmitter (included). For our customers who are in an office all day and on their phones, the Bluetooth option is a very big draw!

All of our devices come with a year-long manufacturer’s warranty. When our customers are under this warranty, all of their repair costs are covered and there are never any hidden charges! After their first year, customers can extend their warranty for an additional $99/year.

Our devices also come with a 45 day trial period. With this trial period, there is a full money back guarantee and if the hearing aid user is not completely satisfied, they can send back their device at any time during these 45 days. Customers can also exchange or upgrade their devices if they are still within their trial period.

LAS:
16) Anything else people should know about working with Audicus?

PF:
Audicus was started to help make hearing aids accessible to everyone. The truth is that hearing loss is something that is treatable and should be addressed by anyone who has it. Our goal is to empower people to take control of their hearing health, because it will increase their overall well-being and quality of life.

Thanks to Patrick Freuler for his time in providing the detailed content for this article. Sound is an important sense to most people. It’s great to know there is an online option that provides great service and affordability.
Take care of your hearing and make sure you see a doctor if you seem find your hearing is diminished!

Find out more about Audicus.com hereAudicus.com
Follow them on these social platforms:

https://www.facebook.com/audicus
https://twitter.com/audicus
https://www.pinterest.com/audicus/
http://instagram.com/audicus
GooglePlus. https://plus.google.com/+Audicus/posts

Stevie Wilson,
LA-Story.com

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