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Questions and Answers About Hearing Issues


By Ellen Verlo, MA, CCC-A, Audiology Consultants, P.C.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

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

Photo credit: lushik/iStock