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New Hearing Aid Manufacturers Offer Devices Online—Here’s What You Need to Know

If you had been diagnosed with hearing loss 20 years ago, you would have had only one choice: purchase hearing aids through your audiologist or hearing aid professional. That has simply been the way things are done for many, many years—but change is on the horizon. In fact, in many ways, change is already here when it comes to purchasing hearing aids and other hearing devices.

Beginning this year, several companies are now offering hearing aids available for online purchase. These include Bose, who created their own self-fitted hearing aid, and Walgreens, who partnered with hearing aid maker Lexie Hearing. In addition, highly recognizable companies like Apple, Samsung, and Panasonic will soon join them in becoming hearing aid manufacturers. According to online rumors, even Google has considered getting in the hearing aid game!

So, what does this mean for you as a consumer? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider this news:

  • You have options for purchasing hearing aids.
    As mentioned above, options for getting hearing aids in the past were pretty limited. Now, you have the choice to purchase a hearing aid through your audiology professional, purchase your devices online, or (in the near future) purchase your hearing aids over-the-counter (OTC).

    This variety of purchasing options also brings more variety in pricing. Top-of-the-line, custom hearing aids fitted by your audiology professional can cost thousands of dollars. (It should be kept in mind that hearing aid professionals offer lower-cost options as well.) The current online offerings from Bose and Walgreens fall in the $800-850 range. Over-the-counter hearing aids are likely to bring additional lower-cost devices. This allows you to find the hearing aid that is right for your budget as well as your hearing needs.

  • Not all hearing devices are hearing aids.
    When you think of managing hearing loss, hearing aids are probably the first solution to come to mind. However, several types of devices are now available, with more coming thanks to continuing audiology research and technological innovation.

    For example, there are now headphones and earbuds that correct audio for hearing loss, soundbars that do the same, apps that help you hear better in noise, apps that allow you to personalize your sound experience, and much more. If you have mild hearing loss, these types of devices and apps may be able to help you hear better without the need for hearing aids.

  • Audiological research is advancing quickly.
    From the advancements in hearing aids and other hearing devices in the last few years, it is apparent that audiological research is moving forward quickly now—and it’s being taken seriously. Companies that never previously ventured into the audiological field are now doing so confidently. In addition, developing technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence are poised to further advance audiology in the coming years.
  • Your hearing professional can still guide you through the process.
    Whether you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the new choices or simply want to make sure you get the option that’s best for you and your needs, an audiology professional is there to guide you through. Your audiology professional will test your hearing and explain the various options you have, as well as the pros and cons of each. This can help make it easier to see which option is the best fit for you.

To learn more about new hearing aid availability and other hearing devices, we invite you to contact our hearing professional today. We are eager to assist you.

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Here’s Why You Need an In-Person Hearing Test (Even Though You May Be Able to Buy Hearing Aids Online)

Odds are good that you’re familiar with online shopping. Nowadays, even hearing aids are available for purchase online! That’s right—companies like Bose and Walgreens began offering online purchase for hearing aids (in certain states) this year. So, if you can purchase your hearing aids online, then you no longer need to go to your hearing professional’s office for an in-person hearing test, right? Wrong!

The truth is that even with advancing technology and increased online offerings, there is nothing that can compare to an in-person hearing test. In-person hearing tests are essential for getting an accurate assessment of your hearing ability and evaluating whether you would benefit from treatment like hearing aids.

If you aren’t convinced, here are just a few reasons why it’s important to have a formal, in-personal hearing evaluation:

  1. There are different types of hearing loss. The online hearing tests used to purchase and fit hearing aids online may not be able to detect all types of hearing loss and may not accurately fit your devices based on the specific type of hearing loss.
  2. There are varying degrees of hearing loss—and hearing loss can vary between your ears. Again, online hearing tests may not be able to detect all degrees of hearing loss. If you have mild hearing loss, it may not be apparent in an online test, yet it would be noticed by an audiology professional in a formal hearing evaluation. Furthermore, sometimes your ears have different degrees of hearing loss. This is important to take into account when fitting hearing aids.
  3. You should establish a baseline for your hearing. The Mayo Clinic recommends regular hearing evaluations for adults to establish a baseline. This will make it easier in the future to determine whether you are experiencing hearing loss and whether it’s time for hearing aids.
  4. Hearing loss can signal other health problems. In some cases, hearing loss is an early warning sign of a serious health condition, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes. An online hearing test will not consider your overall health.
  5. Untreated hearing loss can lead to additional health problems. If your hearing loss goes untreated, you are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness and social isolation, falls, cognitive decline, and dementia. By having regular hearing evaluations and treating any diagnosed hearing loss, you can avoid these serious consequences.
  6. Hearing evaluations are painless. “No pain, no gain,” doesn’t apply to hearing tests. An in-personal hearing test simply checks your hearing ability. You will wear headphones and listen for tones to evaluate how well you hear sound volume and sound pitch. Your hearing professional may also conduct a painless physical examination of your ears to check for ear wax impaction or infection. Hearing tests usually take less than an hour, and they might be free, too (depending on your insurance).

And maybe the best reason of all? If your hearing test shows that you do not have hearing loss, you can say, “I told you so!” to anyone who told you that you might not be hearing very well. Joking aside, regular in-person hearing evaluations are essential to ensuring that any hearing loss is treated in a timely manner and in a way that best fits your specific needs.

To learn more about the importance of in-person hearing evaluations and to schedule your next hearing test, we invite you to contact our hearing professional today. We are eager to hear from you!