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Disposable Hearing Aids: Does it Work?

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By Lauren Keith - bio | email

Chances are if you don't suffer from hearing loss yourself, you have a person in your life who does. This week's Does it Work product test has that in mind as well as a possible low-cost option.

"When my wife is talking over there, it's hard to hear," says Eldon McKenzie of Chaffee.

Eldon McKenzie recently started wearing hearings aids.  He and his wife shelled out about $3500 for a pair.  The Songbird Flexfit Disposable Hearing aid costs $160 for a pair.  Eldon says he might be interested in this product, given the cost.  It comes with a battery and is disposable.  So, when the battery dies, you throw it out.

The product manufacturer boasts: "No appointments, no fittings, no batteries to replace, no costly maintenance."

The Songbird is supposed to last up to 400 hours.  Eldon wears his hearing aids for about 15 hours a day, so that means the Songbirds would last a little more than a month for him.

He has a bit of trouble trying to put the loop over his ear, but eventually gets the hang of it. Next, Eldon's wife, Maxie, tries speaking to him from across the room.

"Can you understand my words?" she asks.

"Pretty much!" Eldon replies.

Next, Eldon goes outside to see if there's any noise interference.

"I hear an engine running here and construction running here," he says.

He can also hear us when we move a good distance away from him and speak at a normal tone. 

"Just barely, I can make it out," he says.

So far so good, but it takes a little adjusting when he answers a cell phone call.

"Now I got it. Yeah, I can hear you now," he says.

His wife, Maxie, is impressed as well.

"It seemed to be like when he used to hear and not reading lips," she says.

Keep in mind though, you can only adjust the fit by pulling a cord, which concerns audiologist Linda Hurt.  She once featured the Songbird in her office, but later decided to stop selling it based on patient reviews.

"A lot of people liked it at first, but then later found it became expensive to replace.  Over the course of two years, you could buy a really nice set of hearing aids custom-fit for you that last longer than the Songbirds," she points out.

The McKenzies agree.

"It would be good to have when we travel, and then if he loses it, it's not that much to replace," Maxie says.

Dr. Hurt agrees.  She says this might be a quick, lower-cost option in times of emergency, but remember the Songbird is only for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.

"Remember I can't make any changes on it.  It's set for an estimated hearing loss, and most people's hearing loss differs greatly from person to person," says Dr. Hurt.

"From my point of view, he should wear it while reading, but when he goes to church he should wear his regular hearing aids," says Maxie.

"It's not uncomfortable, and I do like them," says Eldon.

"I'd give it about a 'C'. There are some people it will work on," says Dr. Hurt.

I think we've heard enough---the Songbird Disposable Hearing aids chirp to a fair grade 'C' on this Does it Work test.  You can only buy online at the company website, www.songbirdhearing.com.

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