Should You Buy Your Hearing Aid Online?
Eyeglasses, vitamins, groceries…almost everything can be bought online. With retail giants like Amazon selling items ranging from computers to emergency medical supplies, it may seem logical to save money by purchasing your hearing aids online.
While it may seem like you’re getting a deal, our audiologists caution that there’s much more to consider than merely getting a good deal. Purchasing a less expensive hearing aid online may actually cost you more money in the long run — and your online “bargain” may not resolve your hearing problems.
Can you purchase hearing aids online?
Of course you can, but the question is should you? Here are a few things you should consider before you put a new hearing aid in your shopping cart.
A HEARING AID DOES MUCH MORE THAN BOOST VOLUME
There’s a difference between a hearing aid and a sound amplifier. An amplifier simply makes sounds louder. While that may seem like the simple solution, there are many more subtleties that should be considered. For example, a sound amplifier won’t be a lot of help when you’re in a crowded restaurant or you’re trying to understand someone calling to you from another room.
An audiologist is able to recognize these subtleties and target the exact type of hearing aid to best address your individual needs. That’s hard to do when you’re shopping online.
ONLINE PURCHASES AREN’T CUSTOMIZED TO YOUR HEARING TEST RESULTS.
Audiologists do much more than fit hearing aids. They conduct detailed hearing tests and use the results to determine the exact type of hearing aid that will benefit you most. They are able to work with your local ENT physician at Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat to help you. If you order your hearing aid online, you’re missing out on the benefits of this extensive expertise.
WHEN YOU’RE ORDERING IT ONLINE, YOU DON’T REALIZE A HEARING AID MAY NOT SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM.
There are several causes of hearing loss. In fact, by the age of 65, one in three Americans will have a hearing loss. While hearing loss seems to be a natural part of the aging process, it can also be caused by other factors, such as exposure to loud noises.
Hearing loss can also be caused by structural problems or deformities of the ear itself. These problems can only be addressed by an ENT. Audiologists work closely with your ENT physician to determine the exact cause of your hearing loss. If the ENT discovers there is a physical problem with your ear, then a hearing aid will not solve your problem. If that’s the case, you may need surgery to alleviate your problem completely.
ONLINE HEARING AIDS DON’T ENABLE YOU TO CALIBRATE THEM TO THE RIGHT SETTINGS.
The best hearing aid in the world is useless if it’s not set correctly. If it was purchased online, audiologists may not have access to the sophisticated software that accompanied the hearing aid. As a result, you may be saving dollars, but getting no benefit.
Hitting the “sweet spot” of your hearing aid setting may require additional visits. This is impossible if you’ve purchased your hearing aid online.
WHEN YOU PURCHASE ONLINE, YOU HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT THE CERTIFICATIONS OF THE DISPENSER.
There are several differences between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser. While a dispenser’s certifications and requirements vary from state to state, audiologists are required to have advanced education — usually the equivalent of a doctor’s or master’s degree — to fit, calibrate and recommend hearing aids. Dispensers do not have to fulfill these more rigorous qualifications.
When you’re online, it’s more difficult to determine who is behind your purchase. Do you really want to take a chance with your hearing?
ONLINE RETAILERS MAY NOT SHOWCASE ALL YOUR HEARING AID OPTIONS.
Forget the high-pitched squealing that used to come from your grandmother’s hearing aid. Today’s devices are smarter and more sophisticated than ever. Today’s devices allow you to connect your hearing aid to your phone or to your iPad — and this is just a small sampling of what is available.
An audiologist, particularly one associated with local ENTs at Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat, will have up-date-information on the latest technology, and they will help you find the best option to match your lifestyle.
YOU MAY BE A BETTER CANDIDATE FOR A DIFFERENT TYPE OF HEARING AID.
Depending upon your situation, you may be a candidate for a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA). This type of hearing aid uses bone conduction to relay sound signals directly to the brain.
If you were purchasing your hearing aid online, you’d have no chance to evaluate any other options, such as BAHA, that may be available to you.
YOU CAN’T ASK EXTENSIVE QUESTIONS ONLINE.
Sure, retailers may have a chat window where you can ask questions, but what if you need a follow-up explanation? Will you get the same representative you had before?
While online shopping has made wonderful innovations possible for today’s consumer, there is often no substitute for having a one-on-one conversation in person. If you are entrusting your precious hearing to someone, shouldn’t be a professional who is ready to answer any questions and follow-up as needed?
YOU CAN’T TELL IF IT’S GOING TO BE A GREAT FIT.
Of course you can order clothes on line that say they’re the right measurements and perfect color, but when they arrive and you actually try them on, it could be a different story. If this is a concern for clothing or shoes, shouldn’t it be even more concerning when it involves a vital part of your health care?
While most online retailers will provide an exchange for another one, wouldn’t it be easier just to handle something like that in person? While ordering online may appear to be convenient at first, this benefit wears thin if you have to make repeated changes.
How to select the hearing aid that’s right for you
So you’ve decided you’re not going to purchase your hearing aid online. Now what? Where do you go from here?
Your first step should be to go to your ENT physician to be sure you understand the underlying cause of your hearing loss. Then, a certified audiologist will work with you to determine what type of hearing aid would be best for you. Often, this may involve trying different types of devices before you find the one that suits you best.
INTERESTED IN KNOWING MORE ABOUT HEARING LOSS?
You’ll find the following articles very useful:
Three Ways to Know if You Need a Hearing Test