The Perils of Online Purchases
With the proliferation of internet retail sales, it is tempting to some to think that hearings aids can also be purchased online without any downside. In reality hearing rehabilitation should never be boiled down to a simple retail purchase.
Face-to-face Guidance is Critical
There is a multitude of factors to be considered when selecting the most appropriate hearing aid for an individual. The following are just some of the factors an audiologist will consider when selecting the most appropriate hearing aid for you:
- Size and shape of the ear canal
- Texture of ear cartilage
- Manual dexterity and visual acuity of the patient
- Propensity for ear wax
- Cognitive and age-related factors
- How much space there is behind the ear
- The availability of family or carer support
- Degree of hearing loss
- Type of hearing loss (conductive versus sensori-neural)
- The presence of ear-drainage
- Patient preference of available choices
- Technological skill level of the patient
- Lifestyle and listening needs
Receiving guidance and support from a reputable audiologist can only benefit the patient. An independent audiologist is your best ally in determining what hearing aid offers the best hearing solution and represents the best value proposition.
Hearing aids need to be tuned to a prescription to best compensate for an individual’s hearing loss and to avoid causing further damage to hearing. Online sales often do not include any consultation fees to tune the instruments, or if they do, the tuning process may be done by someone you do not know, trust or even like for that matter!
Accountability and the True Cost of Online Purchases
Some online hearing aid retail sites make claims of offering devices at substantially discounted prices. They make these claims without any proof or substantiation. In reality, online prices are often the same or higher in some instances compared to what your local audiologist may already be offering. Just because a website says something is discounted, does not make it fact in every case.
Some disappointed consumers may also discover after the event, that their online international purchase did not come with a warranty honoured in the country where they live. In such cases, any servicing or repair costs would fall to the consumer.
Rehabilitation and Ongoing Support
A point worth noting, is that hearing rehabilitation does not end with the purchase of a hearing aid. Audiologists receive extensive training to support their patients through the transition to improved hearing. Aftercare support and hearing aid maintenance are ongoing realities for hearing aid wearers and should not be overlooked in the whole scheme of things. Approaching hearing aids as a retail purchase denies the ongoing reality of hearing rehabilitation.