by: The Hearing Doctor
Whether you’re shopping for shoes, furniture, or a new computer, the Internet is an easy and efficient way to purchase what you need. If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss, the Internet is also a wonderful resource to learn more about hearing loss and hearing aids. However, caution should be exercised when it comes to purchasing hearing aids online or over the telephone via a free area code.
The prohibitive cost of hearing aids is often cited as the primary reason for people with hearing loss to avoid purchasing hearing aids. While cost is a factor for many people, it is important that you understand that hearing aids are an investment in yourself, your family and in your quality of life. Cost, combined with a lack of insurance coverage, has resulted in many consumers setting their sights on finding the best or cheapest deal online or through the mail.
Purchasing hearing aids in these manners may possibly save you a few hundred dollars up front. However, keep in mind that you may be sacrificing listening experience, wearing satisfaction, hearing safety and the guided expertise of a hearing professional in the process. In fact, the money you saved will more than likely end up being spent when you are in need of reprogramming and follow‐up care from a local provider. Many of the hearing aids available online and over the phone can only be reprogrammed at the source. This means that a simple in-office repair, that could possibly have taken five minutes, now means you have to ship your hearing aid out-of-state and wait for it to return to you in a week or two. That is time lost not hearing and processing sound. That is time lost not hearing your loved ones or co-workers. THAT is time wasted!
The Face-to-Face Purchase IS important!
A successful hearing aid fitting is dependent on many factors!
- A hearing professional should evaluate your hearing loss through simple, painless testing ‐ This is a critical aspect of any hearing aid purchase. Unfortunately, when you buy hearing aids online, there’s no professional there between you and your purchase. So, the chances are pretty good that you’ll end up buying the wrong hearing aids for your needs and lifestyle. Hearing testing performed over the telephone or through headphones through your computer is not the same as the comprehensive testing that is performed in a soundproof booth by an audiologist. Our providers are compassionate, understanding, and will answer all of your questions in person. We even encourage you to bring a family member or friend. A great deal of information is provided at the initial visits. Sometimes that information will be hard for you to recall when you need to. Your time is valuable and we understand that! When you bring someone with you, you can begin your journey to better hearing sooner!
- Hearing aids should be programmed by a hearing professional based on hearing loss and verification testing ‐ A hearing test is the first step in choosing and programming hearing aids. However hearing loss alone cannot predict accurate hearing aid settings. The hearing professional often performs additional subjective and objective testing to fine‐tune the hearing aids. These are valuable tools our offices provide to our patients to ensure you are delighted with your hearing aids!
- Properly fit hearing aids are essential to success – When hearing aids are purchased online, safety can become a concern. Hearing aids come in many different sizes and shapes. Custom hearing aids require the art of an ear mold impression done by a professional who is trained. This ensures the hearing aid will fit properly and will not provide feedback. Self-impressions can be extremely dangerous. Ear mold impressions should not be done if earwax is present in the ears. The presence of earwax can only be ascertained by a professional. Many of our locations use video otoscopy to show you what your ears looks like inside! We will refer you for cerumen management if needed.
- Maintenance ‐ We provide a long term maintenance program so your hearing aids are always scheduled to be professionally cleaned and taken care of. Your hearing aids will be connected to a computer at each visit because the hearing aids will tell us about any adjustments needed based on exposure in your various daily environments. This is an easy process, and ensures your satisfaction. This is not care that you can receive over a telephone. Just like eyeglasses, hearing aids often need adjusting through the years. Our providers are there to answer questions, make fine‐tuning adjustments and monitor your hearing over time.
- Trial periods, returns and guarantees ‐ Most hearing professionals offer a trial period on newly purchased hearing aids. Our providers and the hearing aid manufacturer are with you through the trial period to ensure your satisfaction. With an online/telephone retailer it is impossible to receive that kind of follow‐up service or guarantee.
Hearing aids are more than mere amplifiers. They are complex digital electronic devices that not only allow people with hearing loss to hear, they give you back your quality of life, self‐confidence and happiness. This type of investment is worth purchasing face‐to‐face from a trained and qualified hearing professional. Many patients with hearing loss have the same concerns you do, and an experienced provider can walk you through your journey to better hearing. At our offices, we pride ourselves on taking this journey with you. Remember, life IS worth hearing!