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Questions and Answers About Hearing Issues


Q. Can I buy a hearing aid from the Internet? What are the pros and cons?
The short answer to the question is, yes, hearing aids can be purchased from the Internet. Is it in the best interest of the potential user? Definitely not. It seems anything can be purchased from the Internet these days. There are websites that sell cars, homes, electronics, mortgages, and yes, medical equipment. Most websites that sell over the Internet are legitimate. Some, however, are not. Purchasing something over the Internet that sounds too good to be true probably is too good to be true. Buyer beware.

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) regulates how hearing aids are sold. Hearing aids are considered medical devices. There are strict guidelines that spell out how hearing aids can be sold. Specific testing must be performed before hearing aids are sold. In most states, a person who sells hearing aids must hold a license, either as an Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Specialist, before being allowed to sell hearing aids. A medical clearance from a physician is strongly recommended so there is no question whether the hearing loss is permanent or medically treatable.

If the website is selling mail order “hearing enhancement devices,” beware — it is not a hearing aid. It may look similar to a hearing aid, use a battery like a hearing aid, and make sounds louder but it is not  a hearing aid.

If the website is selling what appears to be the same thing you have considered buying from your hearing professional, same make, model, brand name, it is possibly an illegal site. The hearing aid sold in this manner may not have a valid warranty and there would be no way to have it cleaned, adjusted, or repaired locally.

There are websites selling hearing aids as part of an insurance plan. The buyer must provide a hearing test done professionally. That test is used to choose a hearing aid, program it, and ship it to the user. The price quoted is for the device only. There is not service included. In other words, there probably is no local office to provide cleaning, adjustments, or repairs.

Can hearing aids be purchased from the Internet? Yes, but in many cases you get what you pay for. Hearing loss is so individualized from person to person. This is not a “one size fits all” product. Hearing aids are intended to maximize a person’s useable hearing for the best communication. The service provided by a hearing health care professional is the best way to accomplish this. Audiology Consultants is very proud of the service we provide with every hearing aid sold.

Q. How does hearing loss affect your life?
It may come as a surprised to know that hearing loss can have many negative consequences on day-to-day living. Research indicates hearing loss can lead to developmental problems, negative social experiences, psychological problems, reduced cognitive abilities, and health problems. The average person takes eight years to seek help for hearing loss. They may suffer embarrassment, blame the problem on other people “mumbling,” or see it as a sign of aging.

Hearing loss is present at all ages. It does not discriminate against race, sex, social status, income level, or job description. It can lead to difficulties in personal and professional relationships as well as lead to isolation and withdrawal.

The Better Hearing Institute reports studies have linked untreated hearing loss to:

  • Irritability, negativism and anger
  • Fatigue, tension, stress and depression
  • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
  • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • Impaired memory and ability to learn new tasks
  • Reduced job performance and earning power
  • Diminished psychological and overall health

If you know someone who has trouble hearing, don’t wait. See your hearing health care professional to take the first step toward better hearing.

For more information about options for hearing loss, call Audiology Consultants, P.C. at 563-355-7712 or visit www.audiologyconsultants.com.

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