Our team’s expertise in pediatric audiology enables us to carefully evaluate children's hearing abilities and ensure that any hearing loss is detected early and appropriate interventions are taken.

Audiological Services Expands Services for Cochlear Implant Patients

by | Oct 12, 2022 | Hearing Aids, Patient Resources, Technology

Have you or your loved one noticed a hearing loss lately? Is it starting to affect your life in small or even large ways? 

Are you wondering what to do and what actions or treatments are available? 

This article will answer all your questions so you can make the best choice for your unique personal situation. You’ll learn about options which fit every budget, and we provide our honest assessments on the strengths and weaknesses of each choice. 

But before we list what’s available, there are a couple of key points you need to consider first.  

Starter Questions to Ask 

Each hearing loss situation is unique. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution that will fit your unique circumstances, lifestyle, and budget. 

So, start assessing your needs with questions like these: 

  • 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? 
  • Do you prefer to see a specialist in person or does remote support work better for you? 
  • How far are you able or willing to travel for appointments? 
  • 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? 

 Your answers will give you a good understanding of what you need. 

Available Hearing Loss Treatments in Texas 

This list offers at least one option that fits your needs, preferences, and circumstances. From low budget to high, consider any of the following: 

  1. Earphones and Cell Phone Apps [$0-$250] 
  2. Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids [$800-$1,000] 
  3. PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplification Products) [$79-$1,250] 
  4. Online Hearing Aids with Audiological Remote Support [$1,850-$2,400] 
  5. Big Box Retail Stores [$1,250-$4,000] 
  6. Audiology Clinic [$2,500-$7,800] 
  7. Hearing Loss Surgery (Cochlear Implants) [$30,000-$50,000] 

Let’s explore each in more detail: 

#1 – Earphones and Cell Phone Apps 

If your needs are minimal or you have little money available, your “best-fit” treatment is simple amplification. There are a variety of apps on Apple’s App Store and on Google Play that amplify your earphone volume. 

These apps use your device microphone to increase the volume on all the sounds it picks up. One notable iPhone app is called Chatable – it’s free to download and allows you to simply increase the level of volume on all sounds that your cell phone/earphones pick up. 

Chatable offers 99 minutes of free listening per month, and then it asks you to sign up to a subscription of $59.99 per year.

There are similar apps for Android phones available on Google Play that work pretty much the same way.

You must have earbuds or headphones (wired or wireless) connected to your cell phone for these apps to work. Just place your phone in a position to help you hear conversations better with the elevated volume. 

Another possibility in this category is speech-to-text apps. These don’t use amplification. Instead, they try to transcribe spoken words into text you can read on your phone.  

These apps’ accuracy is dependent on background noise and the enunciation of the speaker, which may pose problems in certain situations. Still, they’re free downloads and they might be just the solution you need. It’s easy to try one and see how it works for you. 


  • They don’t require large fees, as most of these apps are either free or with low-cost paid versions. 
  • The technology requirements (cell phones, earbuds, or headphones) are items you likely have available already.


  • They only work in environments with minimal background noise. 
  • You must wear headphones or earbuds with your cell phone positioned nearby. 
  • They are not customized to your hearing loss because they simply make sounds louder (or else make semi-accurate transcriptions of the speech they hear). 
  • No support or care is included and you’re on your own.

    To give an analogy, these phone apps are like using a magnifying glass to help you overcome a vision problem. They may help in very specific circumstances, but they’re not full-time, convenient solutions that address your core challenges.

#2 – Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids 

In 2017, the federal government passed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act. This gave consumers greater access to affordable hearing aids. 

An over-the-counter device can be purchased without a hearing assessment. You can fit them yourself and use the accompanying phone app to select specific environments and tweak the sound as needed. 

These devices are a lot like wearing earphones connected to a cell phone app but with one key difference: with over-the-counter hearing aids, you get devices that look very similar to traditional hearing aids. 


  • Easily accessible 
  • Purchase from your computer 
  • Very competitively priced 


  • Not tailored to your hearing loss 
  • Don’t require any form of testing (your hearing loss could be nothing more than an earwax buildup or other condition) 
  • Potential discomfort and poor performance, as you must fit them yourself 
  • No support outside of your 90-day returns period 
  • No warranty if you lose or damage them 

 This is the equivalent to buying an off-the-shelf text reader to help you read better. Yes, they will help in certain situations, but they’re very generic options without any customization to your personal situation. 

#3 – PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplification Products) 

A PSAP (Personal Sound Amplification Product) is an amplification tool. You may have seen them for sale on the Internet, through advertisements, or even in Walmart.  

PSAPs aren’t regulated by the FDA and they can’t be marketed as devices that help individuals with a hearing loss. That’s because they’re designed to emphasize listening in certain environments. 

PSAPs take in sound through a small built-in microphone and then amplify it in your ears. 

Starting as low as $79.99 and ranging to over $1,000, PSAPs provide workable solutions for very mild hearing losses. They offer “one-size-fits-all” amplification with little room for adjustments.


  • Easy to purchase (either online or in-store) 
  • Very low cost, priced from $79.99 


  • Not tailored to your hearing loss 
  • Don’t require any form of testing (your hearing loss could be nothing more than an earwax buildup or another condition that isn’t actually a long-term issue) 
  • Potential discomfort and poor performance, as you must fit them yourself 
  • No support outside of your 90-day returns period 
  • No warranty if you lose or damage them 

As with over-the-counter hearing aids, PSAPs are the hearing equivalent to text readers that help you overcome vision challenges – they assist in certain situations but aren’t tailored to you. They are also not long-term solutions. 

#4 – Online Hearing Aids with Audiological Remote Support/Direct-To-Consumer 

You may have seen advertisements that explain how you can access online hearing technology and audiology service support. 

The main selling points of these services are that you don’t have to visit a doctor, they’re available at reasonable prices, and the overall process is convenient and easy. 

Direct-to-customer online solutions allow you to make minor adjustments through a cell phone app or a video call with one of their online audiologists. That’s because they can match commonly used gain and slope hearing loss targets – they’re not personalized, but your hearing loss may match a standard profile covered by the device. 

You can order solutions for as low as $1,850. This gets you a programmed hearing aid tailored to your online hearing assessment, plus online follow-up appointments. 


  • Easy to purchase online 
  • Highly convenient 
  • Hearing technology offered by a reputable manufacturer 
  • Often come with a money-back guarantee 


  • Not tailored to your hearing loss 
  • Don’t require any form of testing (your hearing loss could be nothing more than an earwax buildup or another condition that isn’t actually a long-term issue) 
  • Potential discomfort and poor performance, as you must fit them yourself 
  • No support outside of your 90-day returns period 
  • No warranty if you lose or damage them 

 As with over-the-counter hearing aids, PSAPs are the hearing equivalent to text readers that help you overcome vision challenges – they assist in certain situations but aren’t tailored to you. They are also not long-term solutions. 

#5 – Big Box Retail Stores (Costco/Sam’s Club, Etc.) 

You can also visit your local Costco or Sam’s Club if it offers an internal hearing aid center.  

This is a big step in the right direction if you need genuinely customized hearing technology.

These services require a professional hearing screening to understand your level of hearing loss. They then offer their own Kirkland branded hearing aids plus other reputable manufacturers’ technology.  

Prices fall in the low thousands of dollars range, but the technology is high quality and you 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. 


  • A hearing screening and an in-person fitting is provided. 
  • You wear professional technology protected by a warranty. 
  • You can return for help, device cleaning, and other support. 


  • You don’t receive a comprehensive or advanced hearing evaluation, which could pinpoint the real source of your problem. 
  • You don’t receive ongoing service. 
  • Getting a support appointment sometimes means a long wait. 
  • You can’t use your insurance. 
  • Payment plans are not available. 
  • A membership fee is often required. 

#6 – Audiological Care within a Clinic 

This is the most traditional approach.

You visit a professional audiologist for a comprehensive hearing assessment that checks not only your hearing levels but also your overall hearing health.  

Your audiologist then explores your options so you can decide which level of technology is right for you. You’ll enjoy access to the latest technology without limitations.

The service doesn’t stop with a professional fitting, either. It includes ongoing support and care with cleanings, readjustments, and any repairs as needed. Appointments will usually be available within 48 hours.

Your devices will usually come with extended warranties and protection, and of course your hearing health is the key priority throughout the process. 

What’s more, you can also take advantage of your insurance or payment plans if you wish. 


  • You’re personally treated by a doctor of audiology. 
  • You receive ongoing in-person care. 
  • You’re fitted with the latest technology from a leading manufacturer. 
  • You receive a warranty and other protections. 
  • You can use your insurance. 
  • Payment plans are available. 
  • You’re one of a small number of valued patients. 
  • You’re working with a small business rather than a large corporation. 



  • You’ll have to attend multiple appointments to ensure complete accuracy. 

 This is the hearing equivalent to visiting an optometrist, having your eyes professionally tested, and enjoying the expertise and attention of a professional who works with you to find the perfect eye glasses while also checking for any future vision changes, replacing any parts, and offering you in-depth support. 

#7 – Hearing Loss Surgery (Cochlear Implants) 

If your hearing loss is severe, then a cochlear implant may be your best option. 

This is an electronic medical device surgically implanted inside your cochlea (inner ear) that converts sounds into electrical impulses for your brain to interpret. It replaces your cochlear function. 

When do you need an operation like this? If you have a severe hearing loss in both ears that can’t be addressed by traditional hearing aids, a cochlear implant may be your only option. 

The drawback is that the operation can cost between $30,000 and $50,000. This is often covered by insurance, but any replacement parts in the future (such as new batteries) may not be covered. 


  • Your insurance may cover the initial operation. 
  • This may be the only viable solution for you if you have a severe hearing loss. 
  • The device will be fitted to your specific needs. 



  • It is very expensive with costs ranging between $30,000 and $50,000. 
  • Your insurance might not cover replacement parts such as batteries. 
  • Surgery may be a stressful and even frightening prospect for you. 
  • Because you have an implant, you will not be able to undergo MRI tests or certain other medical procedures in the vicinity of your head. 
  • The surgery might eliminate any residual hearing you still have. 

How Do You Decide? 

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of your available options and feel more confident about what solution seems right for you. 

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution because everything depends on your personal circumstances and preferences. 

If you’d like to chat with a trusted hearing care professional to explain your situation and receive specific individual advice, then go ahead and call our office at (936) 632-2252.  

Our job is to understand your situation and make a recommendation that’s right for you. 

We’re always here to help.  

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Gabrielle Tabb Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Tabb received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders in 2016 from Texas State University. Following this, she attended the University of North Texas where she graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2020 with her Doctorate in Audiology. While in graduate school, Dr. Tabb had various clinical rotations in the DFW area, including UT Southwestern Medical Center, Bonham VA, multiple ENT locations, educational audiology, and several private practices. She completed her externship at OU Physicians Department of Head and Neck Surgery, rotating through the adult and pediatric clinics. Following her externship, she worked as an audiologist primarily in the OU Children’s Physicians location where she was able to serve medically complex children of all ages. Originally from South Texas, she is overjoyed to be able to serve her fellow Texans once again. Dr. Tabb is licensed to practice audiology in the State of Texas. She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC-A) from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a member of Texas Academy of Audiology (TAA). She is passionate about providing the upmost hearing healthcare to people of all ages. She enjoys opening a world of sound to children who are in a crucial stage of speech-language development and adults who believed themselves to be relegated to a life of “social distance” and isolation because of their hearing loss. Dr. Tabb is dedicated to educating patients and their families about the effects of untreated hearing loss on social/emotional health, mental health, and communication. When she is not working, she enjoys playing with her dogs (Winston and Duke), spending time with her husband and family, gardening, cooking, watching movies, and reading.