Millions Affected by Hearing Loss
According to estimates, hearing loss affects about 48 million people in the U.S. Knowing where to go or who to turn can be difficult, and is undoubtedly an important life decision. Unfortunately, many people choose to attempt to take care of their hearing loss on their own—or ignore it entirely. Occasionally, some folks can find some degree of relief from their hearing loss at the consumer level, but this is hardly the case for the vast majority of those who suffer from hearing loss.
Self Diagnosis Can Lead to Risk
Consider the increasing popularity of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) as a cheap substitute for precision hearing aids with advanced technology. There are a number of reasons why a person who suspects they have hearing loss would begin their search for a solution online—after all, that’s the typical course of action for consumers today. For medical product needs, consumers who self-diagnose may be doing themselves more harm than good. Noise-induced hearing loss occurs due to prolonged exposure to high volumes of sound. Rather than amplify only the correct tones that correspond to a specific hearing loss, PSAPs and one-size-fits-all hearing aids amplify all noises—both wanted and unwanted—leading to greater risk of damage to the delicate inner ear cells.
Proper Fit a Key Component to Success
When a patient visits a Doctor of Audiology, they are tested with professional diagnostic equipment, and they learn about their specific hearing loss. Some online hearing aid retailers offer a generic hearing test that automatically programs a hearing aid to a general setting, and once the buyer receives their hearing aid, that’s it—no follow-up care, no cleanings, and minimal instruction for use and maintenance. The buyer is left with a unit that neither fits their ear nor offers a real solution to their unique hearing loss. Leading consumer advocacy groups have suggested that most hearing aid users choose not to wear them because they fit uncomfortably—incorrectly—or do not provide a clear hearing benefit. Over time, money saved by purchasing a cheaper hearing aid typically proves to be money wasted.
Proper Diagnosis Cannot be Done at a Retail Site
Prior to considering hearing aids, it is critical that a Doctor of Audiology rule out any serious health conditions or disorders related to the ear or hearing. This cannot be done online or at a retail site. Consumers should also look for a practice that focuses on building relationships with patients. A visit to a Doctor of Audiology will allow the doctor to get to know the patients’ lifestyles and interests, helping the patient communicate their best in the situations that are most important to them: church, restaurants, or conversations with their grandchildren. Often, these practices will also offer valuable warranties, proper follow-up care to ensure correct fitting, and will adjust and reprogram hearing aids as the patient’s ear changes responsiveness to the proper tones.
It’s About More Than Just Price
Complete and professional hearing care is the most important consideration when seeking treatment for hearing health. The cost of missing out on powerful life moments due to hearing loss is immeasurable. Choosing a hearing aid based on price, rather than specific hearing needs, is a mistake. The most important moments in life can’t be measured monetarily. The reward of fully experiencing those moments is well worth seeking out a Doctor of Audiology for complete care of your hearing health.
February 10th, 2014 by Tony Milliano, Au.D., F-AAA