The Internet provides great ease and convenience when it comes to buying products online. However, when it comes to hearing aids, shoppers should know the facts before they buy.
Drs. Megan Johnson and Courtney Guthrie at Johnson Audiology stress that a hearing aid is a complex medical device and not a simple sound amplifier.
"People really should see an audiologist to get their hearing tested," Dr. Johnson said. "Hearing tests online should be considered a screening tool to determine if further evaluation is necessary." Dr. Guthrie stressed that the validity of an online hearing test is questionable and should not be used to fit hearing aids.
She went on to explain how with so much information and research online, it can be overwhelming for consumers to try to decipher between manufacturers, styles, and levels of technology. The benefi ts to seeing a licensed audiologist is they have been educated and trained to diagnose all types of hearing loss and help guide patients towards amplification for their lifestyle. When necessary, Drs. Johnson and Guthrie will refer to other medical professionals for further evaluation or treatment.
"Some hearing aids advertise that you can hear a pin drop across the room," said Dr. Guthrie. "If that is true, how annoying and interfering will environmental noises be for speech communication?" One of the major complaints of people with hearing loss is understanding speech in background noise. This is where technology plays a key factor in what your hearing aids can do for you.
"Causes of hearing loss can be something as simple as too much earwax to something as serious as a brain tumor," she said. "We stress that people see an audiologist to be sure they are getting the best help possible."
Dr. Guthrie said it's also important for patients to see an appropriately licensed audiologist, be committed to the process of improving their hearing and be an active part of the working patient-doctor relationship.
"One of the things you miss out on when just buying a hearing aid online is the professional services," she said. Other things to consider when buying a hearing aid online include programming the hearing aids appropriately and learning to use and care for your hearing aids. Also, when you purchase these types of devices online, who do you go to for help?
Professional services include fitting and followup visits, education and information regarding your hearing aids, as well as, counseling regarding appropriate expectations for the patient and their family members.
David Moore, a patient of Drs. Johnson and Guthrie, said he exhausted the Internet trying devices on his own to no avail. "Before I found them, I really had done everything trying to find a less expensive alternative to solve my hearing problem," he said.
In the three-month period before he came to Johnson Audiology, Moore went through four different hearing aids from Internet suppliers and found them to be useless and sub-par in providing a good, strong solution to his hearing loss.
"Do I dare even mention the years before trying those cheap imitations and 'hunter' type aids, all of which I wound up throwing away?" said Moore. "I honestly think in the end, one has to make the hard personal decision of do I want to hear or not? For me, I guess it took working through all of those cheapies, probably 10 in total, to fi nally accept the fact that if I really wanted to hear I was going to have to make an investment see a doctor and get the right ones."
He said the help and experience he had with Johnson Audiology was just what he needed. The aids he received they not only feel very good in his ear, but have truly given him a new lease on life, he added.
Dr. Johnson added that "if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is." We invite you to contact Dr. Johnson or Dr. Guthrie at Johnson Audiology to learn everything a patient needs to know about hearing aids.
Johnson Audiology is located at 1618 Gunbarrel Road, Suite 102. The business provides diagnostic hearing evaluations and consultations, hearing aid adjustments and repairs. For more information about their services or to schedule a hearing test, call 423-710-1432 or visit johnsonaudiology.com.