These days it seems you can purchase hearing aids anywhere: Big Box stores, online and even in the local drugstore chain. With so many choices, how do you decide the best option for you?
Like many items at a big box store, hearing aids are often available at slightly lower prices than in an audiologist’s office. However, purchasing hearing aids at a discount while overlooking the importance of a quality hearing healthcare provider may result in a less satisfactory experience with your new aids and poorer outcomes in the long-run.
When purchasing devices from a big box store, care is more often than not provided by someone who may not follow Audiology Best Practices. Furthermore, hearing aids are often “locked”, which means they cannot be serviced by anyone except the original seller. This can become an issue if you need them reprogrammed, or if you move far away from that store. Purchasing online or from the store may mean a hearing healthcare provider is not even involved!
It cannot be stressed enough that the person you choose to fit your hearing aids IS more important than the products themselves.
There are many reasons why the PERSON is more important than the PRODUCT:
Audiologists are the hearing experts. Hearing loss is a medical condition that requires treatment and rehabilitation from a medical professional. Audiologists have a Master’s Degree and/or a Doctorate, with a minimum of 6 years of training. Audiologists have the expertise to assess your hearing and recommend that best course of treatment for you. Audiologists can also help diagnose a wide variety of hearing and balance problems and refer you to an appropriate doctor, if needed. Audiologists take into consideration your lifestyle when recommending treatment, ensuring you have the proper devices to improve your communication, which improves your quality of life.
Audiologists give more patient-centered treatment. Like you would not choose a pair of glasses from a shelf, you need hearing devices chosen precisely to fit your needs. The only way to achieve this is with a comprehensive hearing exam and lifestyle consultation with a professional who is invested in your needs and is motivated to ensure you get the best treatment possible.
Audiologists provide expert fittings. While some users may get benefit from off-the-shelf hearing devices, most will achieve a superior listening experience with a custom fit. Hearing aids are very sophisticated micro-computers that need to be fine-tuned for each individual. That's why you should choose an audiologist, like Angie Lederman, MS, CCC-A, who follows Audiology Best Practices, including Real-Ear Measurements (REMs). REMs ensure that the correct amount of sound is reaching your ears. Too much sound can result in distortion and discomfort, while too little sound can seem as though you are not receiving any benefit.
You will see the same Audiologist at each visit. When you work with a local audiologist, you establish a relationship with a professional who monitors your hearing over time and will remember your lifestyle and communication needs. The consistency of working with the same provider means your satisfaction stays high as your relationship with your audiologist grows.
Audiologists value follow up care. Once you are fit with your hearing aids, the ‘transaction’ is not complete. Hearing aids are not like eyeglasses. They do not go on your ears and magically return your hearing to normal. Improved hearing is a process, which requires time and patience to succeed. Regularly scheduled follow up care and counseling are critical to ensure continued success. An audiologist using Best Practices (like Hear Now Audiology & Tinnitus Center) will perform electroacoustic analysis on your hearing devices periodically to ensure they are performing optimally. Annual hearing screenings can detect the smallest changes in your hearing levels, which may mean reprogramming of your hearing devices.
Audiologists can remove earwax. Most audiologists can also provide essential hearing health services like Earwax Removal. Our office uses the Earigator, which is a quick and painless ear flush to remove wax easily.
Even if you think you have found the right hearing device at a Big Box store or online, your success ultimately depends on how well it is fit and programmed. So instead of asking which hearing aid is the best, the question you need to ask is “Who is the best professional to help me hear and communicate better?” A local audiologist who follows Best Practices and implements a patient-centered approach is the best choice.