Disposable Hearing Aids

Picture of Lyric extended wear hearing aid from Insound Medical
Lyric Extended Wear Hearing Aid. Image © Lyric. © Insound Medical

Traditional hearing aids cost thousands of dollars. For those with mild or moderate hearing losses, there is an alternative - disposable hearing aids. These are hearing aids that last for a certain number of hours of use, and then can be discarded and replaced with another pair of hearing aids.

Disposable hearing aid technology is still in its infancy. Two companies that make disposable hearing aids are Songbird, and Insound Medical (Lyric hearing aid).

Lyric has a subscription fee, and users can buy Songbird hearing aids directly from Songbird's website. At this time, Songbird's hearing aid lasts for up to 400 hours [16 days] before needing replacement, and the Lyric lasts up to 120 days [2,880 hours].

Both companies say that not needing to replace batteries is one of the advantages of a disposable hearing aid. Songbird is inserted and removed by the user like any traditional hearing aid. The Lyric is an "extended wear" hearing aid, meaning that the user does not have to remove it because it is inserted into the ear canal by a hearing professional.

Songbird began in 2003, then ceased production before returning a few years later. In January 2006, the About.com blog post, "Disposable Hearing Aid Question" asked if the concept of disposable hearing aids had been a failure. An About.com reader responding to that blog post raised an issue about disposable hearing aids that has also appeared in reader comments elsewhere:

"Disposable hearing aids are pieces of junk. I bought a pair of Songbirds a few years ago and they sounded like CRAP! I figured in the cost of buying a new pair every two months like the Miracle Ear people suggested and it was easily twice as much as if I just bought a pair of custom hearing aids..."
- Jack

Will disposable hearing aids catch on an alternative to traditional hearing aids for people with mild or moderate hearing loss? Although it may cost more to purchase hearing aids through a subscription plan, for some people that may make sense, especially if they do not have thousands of dollars up front to spend on traditional hearing aids. It may also make sense if their hearing loss is mild enough that they do not need advanced features available in traditional hearing aids.

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