There’s no question that online shopping has made our lives easier. In some cases, a single click is all it takes to have a package at your doorstep the next day. As with most other products, the ability to buy hearing aids online has been made far easier within the past decade.
Unlike other products, however, this ease – while saving time and possibly money in the short term – can cause serious issues further down the road. Here is a list of reasons why you should never buy a hearing aid online, no matter how good the deal is.
- Your ears and hearing condition are unique to you
- Hearing aids need to be frequently checked in on
- Hearing aids require the expertise of a professional to address your needs
- Your hearing loss might be indicative of a more serious issue
- You might need more than hearing aids
- Buying a hearing aid online might cost you more than you’d think
- Hearing aids bought online cannot legally be called hearing aids
Online hearing aids: a breakdown
1. Hearing aids are as personal as clothing sizes
By a wide margin, the most returned products bought online are clothes, which make up 75% of all returned items (according to SmallBizTrends). As you can imagine, this is because of poor fitting or discomfort.
It’s one thing to purchase a single pair of pants online and find out they don’t fit. It’s another to try to tailor a suit over the internet, only to receive it and find that it’s too tight. A hearing aid is as intimate and precise as a bespoke suit, and needs to be carefully constructed to fit the user’s ear. In some cases, a silicon cast of the user’s ear will need to be made in order to fully suit your ear. When you’re making such an important investment, it’s worth the time to make the trip to a hearing specialist.
2. Hearing aid sites are not equipped to understand your condition
The shape of your ear is one thing, but the state of your hearing is just as important. This needs to be figured out by a hearing healthcare professional before your hearing aid can be made. When visiting a hearing specialist, you will undergo tests to determine the state of your hearing, and work out what needs to be done. These tests are numerous, in-depth, and simply could not be done online.
The ear is a complicated system, and any number of things can go wrong. A hearing aid is ideally designed to balance or fix a specific problem, and a cure-all hearing aid does not exist. A hearing aid should not be a jack of all trades; it should be a master of one, and finding out which one is a task you should leave to a qualified professional.
3. Hearing aids are not a one-and-done fix
As with any medical process, periodic check-ups are needed in order to make sure your hearing aid is working as expected.
It may be that you buy a hearing aid online, and find that it serviceably works for the first month or two. But when it starts buzzing, or things start to sound muffled, you will have no dedicated professional to turn to in order to discuss what should be done. Adopting a hearing aid is a process, not an instant fix, and you’ll need a hearing specialist to help you through this process, step-by-step.
4. Audiology is as complicated as any other health issue
If you had a debilitating disease, and went online to find antibiotics to help fix yourself, would you know whether you needed aminoglycosides, fluoroquinolones, or cephalosporins? If the answer is no, don’t feel bad – unless you’re a medical professional, you have no reason to know what any of that means.
Similarly, when presented with a choice between IIC, RIC, BTE, CIC, ITE, or ITC hearing aids, which one do you think is best for you? Once again, it’s fine if you don’t have any idea, because that decision shouldn’t be up to you. A qualified hearing specialist will be able to help you understand the best hearing aid for you, rather than leaving you in the dark.
5. You may simply be treating a symptom, not a cause
While hearing loss can naturally occur over time, there are instances where it is a symptom of a bigger issue. According to the Mayo Clinic, hearing loss can result from certain medications, such as gentamicin, viagra, or some chemotherapy-related drugs. It can also be caused by illnesses like meningitis, or other conditions that cause a high fever, which may need to be identified and addressed by a professional. Buying a hearing aid to fix the symptoms of a far more serious issue could lead to further problems down the road. A qualified hearing specialist will be able to identify if your hearing loss is part of a bigger issue, and direct you to another medical professional.
6. Hearing aids might not be enough
Imagine if you spent the money on an online hearing aid, and figured out that not only was it uncomfortable or poorly made, but that it didn’t even come close to helping you hear. In some cases, additional aids are needed to fully enable hearing – for example, you might be in need of an assistive listening device (ALD).
ALDs are used mostly for watching TV or films – an essential activity in this day and age. They are supplemental hearing devices that are made for an individual’s experience. While your family watches TV at what they consider to be a comfortable volume, you can personalize your own listening experience using an ALD. Here’s our list of the best ALDs on the market today.
7. While you might be scoring a “deal,” in the end it may cost you even more
When buying a hearing aid from a qualified hearing specialist, you’re actually buying a package. This obviously includes the hearing aid itself, but just as importantly, this also includes the prescriptive fitting process of the hearing aid performed by the hearing provider, an orientation as to how to use the device properly, as well as subsequent follow-up visits and check-ins. If you were to buy a poor quality hearing aid online, and inevitably needed to visit a hearing specialist to get it fixed or tuned, these costs would eventually add up and undo any “deal” that you’d found.
Similarly, buying a hearing aid online does not allow for any kind of warranty coverage. This means that if it were to break over the first two years, any repair fees would have to come from you, whereas a standard hearing aid warranty lasts a minimum of two years.
8. Not addressing your hearing properly can lead to serious problems down the road
Have you noticed that paying attention to a conversation in a loud cafe is more mentally tiring than a casual talk over dinner at home? The less your brain can comfortably hear, the more calculations it has to do in order to figure out what it’s hearing. Over months and years, this can be incredibly taxing on the brain, and can lead to various other health problems – from something as common as general tiredness to serious diseases like dementia.
The longer your ears go without proper care and consideration, the more damage it does to your brain, increasing the risk of significant health problems. If you buy a hearing aid online and it isn’t equipped enough for your condition, you’re only adding unwarranted stress to your brain.
9. They are not legally considered to be hearing aids
If nothing has convinced you so far, then you should know that any hearing aid sold online cannot legally be labelled a hearing aid – at least in the eyes of medical professionals (the only eyes that matter in this case.) Despite the fact that we’ve been saying the phrase “online hearing aid” for the past 1,000 words, when you buy a hearing aid online, what you’re actually buying is a PSAP – a “personal sound amplifying product.”
While this may sound close enough to what you’re looking for, when it comes to your health, ‘close enough’ isn’t enough. PSAPs are far more basic than a hearing aid – which may be why they offer such a deal – and perform a far less intricate process. These mass-produced gadgets might work in a pinch, but for a device that you’re going to be relying on for years to come, you deserve something that is actually classified as a hearing aid.
You may occasionally come across a website that does sell hearing aids online. This, however, is almost always against the manufacturer's distribution guidelines, and is not endorsed by any of the large hearing aid manufacturers.
Finding a hearing specialist
It's one thing to buy clothes or food online, only to end up disappointed. A brief moment of mourning for the negligible amount of money you wasted, and then life resumes. However, hearing aids are ideally a permanent fixture; a purchase that means you never have to worry about a hearing-related problem ever again (excluding the occasional check-up.) Buying a hearing aid online will almost certainly mean that this device, which is intended to provide relief, will only lead to more headaches – sometimes literally. Do yourself and your wallet a favor, and visit your hearing specialist if you intend to buy a hearing aid.
As you can see, a real-life consultation is by far the best way to get a hearing aid. If so, feel free to fill in this form to be directed to your nearest hearing specialist for a hearing test. The test is free, quick, and performed by a trusted professional.