Hearing loss specialist explains why the low cost of hearing aids online may extract a high cost in missed diagnosis and ineffective treatment.
Today, consumers can turn to the internet to buy everything from art work to zoology books. But it wasn’t until recently that they could buy hearing aids – and this is a change that Gary Huff, owner of Miracle-Ear of Santa Barbara, believes compromises consumer hearing health.
“Contrary to the way an internet vendor positioned hearing aids in an August 21, 2012, story airing on CNBC , hearing aids are neither fashion accessories nor ‘consumer electronic devices’,” said Huff. “Hearing aids are medical devices, and require professional evaluation, fit and adjustments to deliver the life-changing benefits they offer.”
The International Hearing Society (IHS) is a membership association that represents hearing healthcare professionals worldwide, including those at more than 1,200 Miracle-Ear locations nationwide. As a corporate sponsor of IHS, Miracle-Ear supports the organization’s ground-breaking efforts to ban what it considers to be illegal internet and over-the-counter sales of hearing aids – also being marketed and sold as Personal Sound Amplifiers (PSAPs). According to the IHS, because hearing loss can be related to an underlying medical disorder, by law the hearing loss sufferer must be
evaluated by a physician or another licensed hearing professional in the six-month period prior to purchasing a hearing aid to confirm that all medically treatable conditions have been identified and addressed. And in many states, hearing aid sales are also governed by licensing laws.
However, adults do have the right to waive these protections based on religious or personal objections – and this has opened the door to internet and over-the-counter marketers offering cut-rate products based on online, phone-based or written “hearing tests”. But Huff warns that an effective hearing loss screening requires a visual examination of the ear along with a comprehensive hearing evaluation by a properly licensed specialist. Without this professional evaluation, consumers run the risk of not knowing or understanding the pathology behind their hearing loss – thereby missing the opportunity to treat the loss effectively and appropriately.
Consumers who buy hearing aids from qualified hearing specialists also benefit from ongoing patient counseling, fitting and adjustments – all of which are essential to maximizing the hearing aid wearer’s success with wearing the device and adjusting to life with hearing loss, according to Huff. This comprehensive, personal approach to hearing loss care is invaluable to the consumer’s hearing health.
“While hearing aids are similar in design and intent, and the initial cost of a hearing aid purchased online may be very attractive, the key to success in wearing and benefiting from the device is in the follow-up counseling, support and fittings offered by certified hearing specialists like Miracle-Ear of Santa Barbara,” said Huff. “Those devices that arrive in the mail will most likely end up in a drawer – unused. And, more importantly, the individual who ordered that device online will continue
to suffer unnecessarily from untreated hearing loss.”
For more information, please contact Gary Huff at Miracle-Ear in Santa Barbara or visit miracle-ear.com.
A trusted resource for hearing solutions for over 60 years, Miracle-Ear uses state-of-the-art technology to remove the barriers of hearing loss. The Plymouth, MN-based company specializes in customizable hearing solutions that feature discreet, comfortable products designed to meet each individual’s hearing loss needs. Free hearing tests are available at all of the company’s 1,200 franchised locations across the U.S. Franchise opportunities are available for those interested in running their own Miracle-Ear business with the support of a nationwide industry leader. For more information, visit www.miracle-ear.com.