My Google Search History after 10 Hours of Hearing Aid Research
I realized that I had hearing loss around my freshman year of high school. I struggled to hear my friends on my Motorola Razr cell phone and realized that I was reading lips in every conversation. My hearing loss wasn’t a total surprise since my mom had discovered her hereditary loss in her 30s and started wearing hearing aids in her early 40s. Later, my younger brother and three other siblings were diagnosed with varying levels of hearing loss.
I spent my teens and 20s asking people to repeat themselves and developing hacks for getting people to talk louder. Fun fact, when you speak loudly early in a meeting, everyone else gets louder to match the volume.
I didn’t seriously consider hearing aids for 15+ years for a few reasons.
- I am a young guy in the creative industry in LA, and hearing aids didn’t feel like me.
- My mom was paying $8,000 for a pair every few years, and I couldn’t stomach the cost.
- It all felt like a lot of effort, making it easy to kick the can down the road.
In 2020 I turned 30, my wife and I learned we were expecting a daughter, and everyone everywhere was wearing masks. No more lip reading. It was all enough to get me off the fence and onto Google to start researching my options.
What I found was really confusing. I saw $99 hearing aids, $8,000 hearing aids, and no apparent differences. There were blogs, audiologists, and YouTube channels all talking about hearing aids, but I had the feeling that I was walking in on a conversation that was already in progress, and it took me more than a day to get my bearings.
Eventually, I started blogging about my experience at HearSoundly.com and connected with many fellow hearing aid seekers who shared my experience.
I’m convinced that now, more than ever, audiologists and experts in hearing technology are critical to showing the way in a changing and often confusing category.
In this article, I’ll recount my first 10 hours of research, hoping that all of us can chip away at the mass confusion customers face on the start line of hearing health.
The start: What are my options?
When I sat down in front of my laptop in 2020, I had a pretty simple question. What are my options? Not just my professional options. I want to understand all of my options.
I searched for “how to get hearing aids” and then “best hearing aids.”
The middle: Who can I trust, and how much are my hearing aids going to cost?
Even as a young, tech-savvy consumer, I spent hours in the middle of my research process stuck in a slog of reviews, videos, and manufacturer spec sheets. I didn’t know what I was looking for, and the crazy thing was that no one shared prices. I now understand that this is par for the course, but I couldn’t figure it out in my first few hours of research. I felt sure I was missing something. How was I supposed to pick something off the menu without prices? Was this one of those “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” type places?
I searched ten variations of “how much do hearing aids cost” and Googled “most common hearing aid styles.”
The middle continued: Am I ready for this?
In the middle of my search, I started second-guessing this whole thing. Maybe I wasn’t ready after all. So many of the products felt clunky, and my hearing isn’t SO bad.
I started searching for things like “invisible hearing aids,” “modern hearing aids,” “innovative hearing aids.”
The decision: Close my eyes and point.
After a fresh cup of coffee, I regained my resolve and picked Eargo. They had good reviews; I could see they had raised a lot of money, and their prices were easy to find. Importantly, Eargo had a return policy, so I could send them back and revisit this whole thing in a few years if they didn’t work.
Now two years later, I most often wear my ReSound One hearing aids that were prescribed by a local audiologist. The tech and custom program are much better suited for my cookie bite hearing loss but the experience of my first 10 hours is still fresh in my mind.
It took me 15 years to start my search, and then moments before I accessed treatment, I almost gave up.
The solutions to the broken entry point to the hearing health care world aren’t simple, but they require our attention. I hope my experience can inspire a renewed focus on simplifying the customer journey.
The hearing health world will get more complicated before it gets clearer. The collective opportunity is to make thousands of small patient-focused decisions across websites, social media, and in-person care. Together the industry can make hearing healthcare more straightforward, welcoming, and transparent. The rest will follow. ■
Blake Cadwell shares his hearing loss experience and research on his blog at HearSoundly.com. After waiting almost two decades to take his hearing loss seriously, he got hearing aids in 2020. Blake has become passionate about sharing easy-to-follow research on hearing aids, hearing technology, and accessible care. Blake has spent the last decade in the creative field working for brands like Gatorade, Southwest Airlines, and Nike. He hopes to put this experience to use in destigmatizing hearing health.