This past month the Minnesota Department of Health released a press release urging consumers to be cautious about buying hearing aids over the internet (http://bit.ly/rMnsUi).
The Health Department’s release stressed the importance of people seeing a hearing health professional if they are concerned about the possibility of a hearing loss. Internet providers increasingly are offering online hearing tests and selling the devices directly to theconsumer, said Catherine Dittberner Lloyd, a Health Department official.
“Before hearing aids can be sold to consumers, (state and federal) laws require practitioners to … visually inspect the consumer’s ears, and ear canal,” the Health Department said in its release.
This is a very important point because a more serious problem is the possibility of overlooking a serious medical condition underlying the measured hearing loss. What if they have a conductive or retrocochlear component? What if they think that the two tone test is as accurate as a full diagnostic hearing evaluation, with otoscopy and either ignore the symptoms with or without a purchase from online? Watching for medical indications and medication interactions is very important in health care. If we focus on the product all of this will be missed.
Over the years we at The Hearing Professionals have seen numerous patients who purchased their hearing aids on-line. Nearly every single one of these patients complained of a poor fit, excessive feedback, or an inability to hear or understand what is being said – all of which cannot be solved by mail order. Additionally, many of these patients were wearing hearing aids that were inappropriate for their hearing loss or life style.
It is The Hearing Professionals’ hope that the lead taken by Minnesota will spread to Wisconsin and the entire USA. In the case of medical devices it is so important to seek the opinion of a trained expert. If you have any questions about hearing loss or hearing aids, contact The Hearing Professionals.