6 Things to Know Before You Buy Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are classified by the FDA as medical devices
The Food and Drug Administration and state laws regulate the sale of hearing aids. For consumer protection, hearing aids are classified by the FDA as MEDICAL DEVICES. They are NOT retail items. Federal regulations require a hearing evaluation prior to a hearing aid fitting. Furthermore, the General Laws of Massachusetts require that the hearing evaluation and medical clearance note be obtained within six months of the fitting of hearing aids.
Fittings often require multiple visits
When you buy hearing aids, you also “buy” the professional services of the person who has dispensed those devices. The fitting of hearing aids is a process that often requires multiple visits for adjustment and review. You should find out which services are included in the price of the hearing aids. Be sure you feel comfortable with the person who is dispensing your hearing instruments, as the purchase of these devices is not a one-time transaction, but the start of a long-term relationship. You should establish yourself with a professional you can trust to address your hearing needs and provide ongoing maintenance to your hearing devices.
Hearing aid brands are often not household names
Most audiologists work with several brands of hearing instruments. With many potential manufacturers and ever-changing models and different technologies, it is impossible to be an expert on all makes and models. An audiologist will select the brands with which he or she has had the best success with patients. You might not be familiar with the names of the hearing aid manufacturer, since most manufacturers do not market their product to the public, but rather to the professionals who dispense the product. However, every manufacturer has a website, so you may research their products online.
Private label hearing aids often come with hidden costs
Some hearing aid dispensers use private labeling on their hearing aids, so you must return ONLY to them for reprogramming and adjustment. We believe it is better to purchase devices that can be repaired and adjusted by any audiologist who has the appropriate computer software. For example, if you need service while traveling or if you move out of the area, we can help you find a local audiologist who can help you. Some people have incurred manufacturer repair costs prior to having adjustments made to their hearing aids, to “unlock” the computer software in their devices and allow reprogramming. We believe private labeling is not in your best interest.
Digital technology allows for individualized hearing aid settings
Today’s hearing instruments all have digital technology, which means they incorporate a computer chip that is programmed and adjusted by the audiologist for the individual person’s needs. Best practice dictates that the settings be verified. That is why we believe it is vital that Real Ear Measurement (REM) be performed when hearing aids are dispensed. REM allows the audiologist to objectively measure the actual range of sound that reaches the person’s eardrums, to verify that the devices are providing the benefit they are intended to provide. For optimal results, you should confirm that you will be receiving this service before you commit to a hearing instrument purchase.
Regular maintenance ensures your hearing aids work properly
After you are comfortable with your hearing instruments, we recommend periodic maintenance visits, to ensure proper operation. We suggest hearing aid checks every six months, where the audiologist will clean and check the hearing instruments, check your ears for wax and answer any questions you might have.