Mail Order and Disposable Hearing Aids
Mail-order hearing aids
The biggest issue with ordering mail-order hearing aids is the hearing aid fitting process. In many cases the person receives instructions and materials to construct their own ear impression. As impression taking is an art, unskilled people attempting to take their own impressions may not complete the task in the most successful manner, which can lead to shell remakes and modifications, and overall an uncomfortable fit. The other consideration regarding mail-order hearing aids is that in many cases, when comparing prices to those of a Hearing Care Professional, the mail-order cost appears to be significantly less. This is misleading in that the price only includes the hearing aids themselves, but not the professional services and equipment required to fit, program, modify and fine tune the aids, as well as providing the patient instructions about operation. A potential analogy would be the purchasing of a mail-order computer with no instruction manual. You would receive the exact same hardware as you would from a local supplier, but no support for configuring or operating the product. Additional expense would be required for proper operation. The interaction and support of a Hearing Care Professional is so important to the process, that in most states it is against the law to sell a hearing instrument without such.
Disposable hearing aids
The allure for disposable hearing aids is the fact that a person could walk into an office with a hearing loss and leave the same day with hearing aids, rather than the customary delay necessary to construct custom shells or earmolds. Additionally, there is the initial attraction of a lower upfront cost. However, the advantage quickly goes away as the disposable units are replaced (purchased) on a frequent basis. The drawback of disposable hearing aids is that in many cases the physical fit is not good due to the use of generic ''sleeves'' or shells. A tight-fitting sleeve can result in soreness, or a loose fit may be susceptible to acoustic feedback (whistling) or an inability to provide enough power because of acoustic feedback. An appropriate analogy of disposable hearing aids would be the generic prescription eyeglasses at a pharmacy. In rare cases, they may provide the proper remedy, but in most, the physical fit and prescription are ''off'' just enough to warrant a custom solution.