June 3, 2011

Ask the Audiologist – Internet Hearing Aid Sales

Flint,-Rachel-colorBy Rachel Flint, Au.D.
Audiology Consultants, P.C.

In today’s digital age, it seems logical that hearing aids should be available for purchase over the internet, right? Before you log on and start searching for the best deal on an online hearing aid
purchase, here are some things to consider.

First, there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” hearing aid. You do need a professional hearing evaluation, given by an audiologist, to determine what type and degree of hearing loss you have as well as rule out any possible medical conditions that could be causing your hearing loss. The type and degree of hearing loss you have plays a critical role in finding the right hearing aid for you. Not all hearing aids will work for all types of hearing loss. An audiologist will know what types of hearing aids will work best for your hearing loss.

Second, not all hearing aids are equal. Hearing aids come in many shapes, styles and colors, but they also come in many levels of technology. Hearing aids have different features to be aware of such as directional microphones, noise management, speech enhancement, telecoil options, and even blue tooth connectivity. Different features are designed to help with different aspects of hearing loss. The degree and type of hearing loss is part of that, but the other part of hearing loss is how it affects the way you communicate and interact with those around you. What are your listening needs and what features will best fulfill those needs? Audiologists are experts in all the available options and will help you decide what is best for your budget, your hearing loss and your listening needs.

Third, selecting the hearing aid is only the first step. Once you have the hearing aid, you need to know how it works, how to properly wear and care for it, and it needs to be programmed for your hearing loss. There are also maintenance repairs that will eventually need to be done. And, putting on a hearing aid is only the first step to hearing again. Unlike glasses, your brain has to readjust to hearing again. You will find that you hear a lot of new sounds once that hearing aid is on. When you purchase a hearing aid online, you may find a professional to help you, but then you may not. You will have to find a professional who is familiar with and has the equipment to work with the hearing aid you purchased. Working with an audiologist from the beginning can ease a lot of these complications. Many audiologists include their services with the purchase of the hearing aids, which can save you money in the long run. Also, the audiologist will know the reasoning behind the selection of your hearing aids and how to help you get the most out of them. Then, the audiologist can work with you to help you adjust and learn to hear again with the hearing aids.

In the end, where you purchase your hearing aid is up to you. However, you might want to think twice before making that purchase by yourself. Many times, an online purchase can bring more costs and hassles than you may anticipate. Having an audiologist with you every step of the way just may be… (Dare I say it?)… Priceless!