Nowadays you can buy just about anything online -- but is it really a good idea to shop for hearing aids on the Internet? If you’re serious about improving your hearing health, here are five reasons your best bet is to consult your family physician or local hearing healthcare professional instead.
You may not need a hearing aid. Before you jump online to find a solution for your hearing loss, make an appointment to see your physician or hearing health professional. They will give you a thorough hearing evaluation and determine the source of your problem. You may have compacted earwax, a benign tumor, a recent ear infection or other conductive hearing loss issue that can be medically or surgically treated to restore normal hearing.
There is no “one size fits all” hearing aid. Just like people, ears come in a variety of shapes, sizes and complexities. That’s why the hearing evaluation includes tests to determine the degree of your hearing loss as well as questions about your lifestyle. Once the audiologist knows the amplification strength you need and the type of technology you’re comfortable with, they’ll make an impression of your ear canal to ensure the hearing aid you order fits you in every way.
Adjustments, repair and replacements. No matter how carefully the audiologist measures your ear canal, it’s likely your hearing aid will need a few adjustments once you receive it. An improperly fitting hearing aid can be extremely uncomfortable and cause a high-pitched squeal, known as feedback.
And what happens when the hearing aid you purchased online stops working? When you purchase locally, you have someone you can trust to repair or replace your instrument quickly and according to warranty.
Experienced training and education. Hearing aids don’t restore your hearing to normal, they only amplify sound – so there’s an adjustment period when you first start using them. Not only will an audiologist help you work through this process, they will also instruct you how to use the features of your hearing instrument so that you get the best results.
Some hearing aids are fairly basic and all you need to know is how to turn them on and off and replace the batteries. Others are more complex, with technology that allows them to interface with other electronic equipment you use on a regular basis.
Insurance and warranties. Since most insurance policies, including Medicare, don’t cover the costs of purchasing hearing aids, it’s important to know exactly what you’re buying before you write the check. When you purchase locally from a hearing aid center, you may be able to request a trial period to make sure the instrument is performing to your expectations. Local providers can also explain warranty information, upgrade availability and replacement part costs to you in language you can understand.