With more and more businesses entering the hearing aid business, many folks are turning to big-box stores to source new hearing aids.
Like many items at a big box store, hearing aids are often available at slightly lower prices than you'll find at a local audiology clinic. However, overvaluing the hearing aid deal over a quality provider may result in a less satisfactory experience with your new aids and poorer outcomes in the long-run.
When purchasing aids from a big box store, care is provided by a less qualified professional who may or may not follow Audiology Best Practices. Furthermore, hearing aids sourced from big-box stores are typically “locked”, which means they cannot be services by anyone because the original seller. This proves problematic if you need them fitted (or reprogramed) by a local hearing specialist, or if you move to another location.
Why it’s worth choosing a local Audiologist
When it comes down to it, which hearing aids you select has less of an impact of your hearing outcome as the provider you choose. Here we will discuss why this is the case.
Audiologists have expert knowledge. Hearing loss is a medical condition that requires clinical treatment from a licensed professional. Audiologists have the expertise to assess your hearing loss and recommend that best course of treatment for your situation. Audiologists can also help diagnose a wide variety of hearing and balance problems if present. They are also qualified to identify conditions that may lead to hearing loss, and refer you to an appropriate doctor. Audiologists take into consideration your lifestyle that may lead to hearing loss, as well as how your life is impacted by hearing issues.
You'll get patient-centered treatment. Like you would not choose any pair of glasses from a pile, you need a hearing aid model chosen precisely to fit your needs. The only way to achieve this is with a comprehensive hearing exam by an experienced Audiologist who is invested in your needs and is motivated to ensure you get the best treatment possible.
You'll get expert fitting. While some users will benefit from off-the-shelf hearing aids, most require a custom fit to achieve the best listening experience possible. Hearing aids are highly complex micro-computers that the hearing provider must fine-tune to suit each patient. Since hearing aids have hundreds of settings that the hearing provider must appropriately configure to accommodate each patient's hearing loss and social needs, the fitting process requires expertise. That's why you should choose a hearing provider like Dr. Kevin Ivory who follows Audiology Best Practices, including Real-ear Measurements.
You'll have the same provider for years. When you consult with a local Audiologist, you establish a relationship with a single person who monitors your hearing over time and will remember your lifestyle needs, your hearing prescription, and the unique nature of your hearing loss. The consistency of working with the same provider can go a long way toward your hearing treatment being successful.
The value of follow-up appointments
The most significant advantage of hearing providers is follow-up care.
Hearing aids are not like eyeglasses. They do not go on your ears and magically and immediately return your hearing to normal. Improved hearing is a process, which requires time and patience to succeed.
You can keep coming back until everything sounds right. Hearing aids are rarely fitted correctly right off the bat. A specialist must finely calibrate hearing aids to fit your particular hearing profile best. And even with this fine-tuning, there is still an adjustment period to hearing aids. It is crucial that you select a provider where you will be able to schedule follow-up appointments to regularly adjust your hearing aids so they function as well as possible.
They can remove earwax regularly. Audiologists don't just fit and prescribe hearing aids - they can also provide essential hearing health services like Earwax Removal.
Hearing providers may also assist with hearing aid repairs. Having hearing aids can be a life-changing experience, but the benefits can slowly fade without regular maintenance. Your hearing aids might need a tune-up or a deep cleaning to get your hearing back on track. Many people who haven't had their hearing aids serviced in the last six to nine months find that having them serviced greatly enhances their listening experience.
Even if you think you have found the right hearing aid for you online or at a big box store, the efficiency of that hearing aid ultimately depends on how well it is fit and programmed. It would better serve you to locate the right hearing care provider near you who follows Best Practices and implements a patient-centered approach.
So instead of asking which hearing aid is the best, next time, ask the question “Who is the best hearing treatment provider for me?” Answering this question is the secret to success with your hearing care.
Hearing aids are an excellent investment in your long-term health and well-being. By trusting a local Audiologist with your hearing healthcare needs, you will receive the multi-faceted treatment needed to stay on top of your hearing health for years to come.