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APR

Posted on Monday, April 02, 2012

Risks of Buying Hearing Aids Online

Female doctor holds patient's hand. Buying hearing aids online causes more problems than it solves.

Time and money are two of the benefits to shopping online. It’s also easy to look at and compare products without leaving your home. The Internet is a great resource for information, but when it comes to prescribing, diagnosing, and treating medical conditions such as hearing loss consumers are losing out. Hearing aids purchased online are costing people with hearing loss more than they know.

Today there are many options for purchasing health related products online, including medical devices like hearing aids, causing a lot of confusion and unhappy customers. People aren't always aware of the risk to health and the hidden costs of purchasing hearing aids online.

Health: Hearing loss is a medical condition that can have more than one cause and may actually be a symptom of another health issue. People who treat their hearing loss without looking into the underlying causes could be harming their long-term health. That is why in order to buy hearing aids online, the U.S. government requires in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Section 801.421 individuals to have a hearing health exam or sign a waiver stating that they know the risks of not having an exam by a hearing health professional. The government openly advices in one of their pamphlets on buying hearing aids, "Don’t patronize a business that dismisses the need for a medical examination prior to the purchase of a hearing aid."

Treatment: There is no one size fits all solution for hearing loss. There are some types of hearing loss that may be helped with medications, steroids, or antibiotics. There are also specific types of hearing loss that cannot be aided by using a hearing aid and some for which a Cochlear implant is the best option. These evaluations can't be made when a person purchases a hearing aid online. A hearing health professional has years of schooling and practice within the field, allowing them to diagnose the nuanced causes and successfully treat the varied ranges of hearing loss.

Fittings: Hearing aids are complicated and technical instruments and should be fitted and adjusted to each individual. Though there are similar types of hearing loss, each person hears in specific ways. Hearing aids typically require several professional adjustments before they are aligned for an individual’s precise needs. In many instances a hearing health care professional will have specialized equipment to make the most precise adjustments needed for comfort and optimal hearing. Purchasing hearing aids online bypasses this necessary step of prescription based fittings to ensure comfort and proper performance from hearing aids.

Use: Studies show that people are less likely to use a hearing aid when they aren’t prepared for the inevitable adjustments and mental and physical changes associated with wearing a hearing aid. That’s why it is important to have a certified and licensed audiologist to speak with before, during, and after hearing aid selection. An audiologist has eight years or more of education in hearing and rehabilitation of hearing. Unlike purchasing hearing aids online, an audiologist can help you find the best hearing aids for your type of hearing loss and will take the time to make sure you are satisfied and therefore more likely to use your hearing aids.

Time: Frustration with returns, damaged equipment, counterfeit hearing aids, and foreign internet sites can cost the consumer the time they’d wished to save by purchasing hearing aids online. This common sense warning comes from the FDA’s website about online purchases, “The Internet offers many opportunities for consumers to receive new information and new offers of legitimate medical products. Unfortunately, it is difficult to examine an Internet business in the same way as you would a local store. It is easy for a dishonest merchant to set up a professional-looking Web site.”

Money: Consumers are losing out when purchasing online, because their hearing aid warranties are not covered by manufacturers. Leading manufacturers, including Oticon, refuse to sell their products to Internet retailers, and this means the warranty on products sold online may not be honored. Leading manufacturer, “Sonic, insist that for the health of their consumer their products need to be dispensed and fitted through a hearing health professional. In fact, Sonic will not honor warranty claims for any of our products purchased online, nor will we accept returns for any such product.”

People who correct their hearing loss are shown to feel and act younger, become more engaged, and even make more money. They have less problem understanding conversations and are more relaxed in social settings. All of these life changing advantages are worth making sure your hearing device is fit properly, is under warranty, and comes with the service and support of a certified audiologist. Commit to hearing health and make an appointment to see an audiologist today!

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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