In today’s world, we are so tempted to buy everything online. Online shopping is not only convenient, but also time saving in fast lives we live today. Right from clothes, food, grocery items, gadgets, cosmetics to plants we can buy everything online.
Similarly, would it be a good idea to buy hearing aids online??
Let us consider a few facts about hearing aids first.
- Hearing aids are medical devices. They are complex and sophisticated devices- not just amplifiers.
- Hearing aids that are fitted without hearing test may not give you desirable results.
- There is a risk associated with Over-amplification – more than necessary power from hearing aids- which can harm your hearing
- Everyone’s hearing needs are unique and selection of hearing aids requires assessment of a person’s listening needs as any hearing aid cannot be fit to anyone. Selecting a model on your own can lead to dissatisfaction with hearing aids.
- Digital hearing aids are programmable and require a software for programming which is not accessible and safe to use by non-professionals
- The cause of hearing loss is also important. Not all hearing losses can be helped with hearing aids. Some can be corrected medically while some require other hearing devices like BAHA/ Cochlear implants. One needs to consult Hearing care professional / Audiologist for the same.
- Hearing aids are electronic devices and hence are susceptible to damage if not handled well.
- Hearing aids are available in different styles and models. Any hearing aid cannot be fitted to anyone. It requires thorough assessment of your hearing.
Role of Audiologists/ Hearing care professionals in management of hearing loss:
Audiologist is a professional who specializes in diagnosis, management and rehabilitation of individuals with hearing loss of all ages. Since hearing aids are medical devices, a thorough understanding of the mechanism of hearing, cause of hearing loss, management options, treatment and prognosis is necessary to be guided by an Audiologist.
An Audiologist will conduct a thorough examination of your hearing abilities; access your individual listening needs and specific issues that you face pertaining to your hearing. He/ She will then guide you regarding management of hearing loss. If aural rehabilitation with hearing aids is indicated, he/she will guide you to choose the hearing aids suitable to your hearing loss type, degree and your individual listening needs. Hearing aids are available in different styles and technologies. A hearing aid trial is necessary in order to evaluate which hearing aid gives the best performance and is most suitable. Different hearing aids can be tried during your consultation with audiologist and this can help greatly in making a decision.
Adaptation to hearing aids takes time. During this time, the audiologist helps you with follow up appointments to help you get better used to hearing aids. Hence, even after purchasing the hearing aids, most often support is necessary to help you use hearing aids comfortably. This is the major disadvantage of purchasing hearing aids online. Hearing aid settings are to be made tailor-made quite like your garment fitting. Have you had an experience with online garment shopping that ended up with return of clothing as it didn’t fit?
Also did you know that hearing loss can be progressive and regular assessment of hearing is necessary even after hearing aid fitting? Audiologist helps you with regular Audiological assessment at regular intervals.
Hearing aids are electronic devices. Hence servicing the hearing aids is necessary from time to time. Audiologist helps you with regular servicing so that optimal performance through hearing aids can be maintained. Also any repair issues also are addressed when hearing aids are purchased from an audiologist.
Custom moulds are required for behind the ear hearing aids and also for Receiver in the canal hearing aids in some cases. You can get that done at audiology clinic. Also custom hearing aids that fit into the ear canal like in the ear(ITE), In the canal(ITC) hearing aids, Completely in the canal(CIC) and invisible in the canal (IIC) hearing aids are developed after taking your ear impression and then housing the hearing aid components into the shell. These services are available at audiology clinic. Audiologist can help you with pros and cons of different styles and recommend which is most suitable to you. This takes care of your satisfaction while using hearing aids for a longer period of time.
A constant touch-point is necessary for most of the hearing aid users. Common support needed is for troubleshooting, changing tubing of molds, buying batteries or any accessories. This becomes difficult when we consider buying hearing aids online.
Also, if you consult an audiologist for programming after you purchase hearing aids online, that would not be the best idea either as that would not guarantee satisfaction since the extent to which hearing aids can be programmed vary model to model. Also the selected hearing aid may not be suitable to the user. The service provider would likely charge you for every consultation for hearing aids ordered online.
The prices of online hearing aids are appealing to the user. However one needs to understand that Audiologist’s involvement in the process will improve your satisfaction with hearing aids as audiologists not only would help you with the selection, but also with all their consultations from time to time, counseling as required, guidance regarding hearing aids usage, care and maintenance and services related to it like programming of the aids, retuning, servicing and repairs.
Hearing aids are not like any other gadgets that you buy without requiring anyone’s consultation. Make sure to take professional advice for getting most satisfaction with hearing aids.