Beware the online bargain – why you should entrust your hearing to the experts
Where would we be without online shopping? It’s arguably one of the greatest inventions of the 21st century. Ecommerce in Australia continues to grow and grow! A 2016 report by Australia Post notes that we’re seeing previously untapped consumer segments become more comfortable with shopping online. And what’s not to love? It’s convenient – most online shopping happens in the evening when ‘bricks and mortar’ stores are closed – and you can even wear your pyjamas!
But, are there things we shouldn’t be buying online? Well, yes there are, according to the Australian Government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA says that buying medical equipment and supplies online might not be the best choice for your health.
Hearing aids, as therapeutic goods, fall into this category.
See, shopping for medical devices online is risky because it’s really hard to tell if the product you’re purchasing is regulated. Unregulated products aren’t held to the strict standards that TGA-approved products are. There’s no way of knowing what you’re buying, or if it will be harmful to your health (and your wallet in the long run). We all love a bargain, but in the case of hearing aids – it’s just not worth it.
The other thing you need to know when considering a hearing aid purchase is that these complex instruments are not intended to be a ‘plug and play’ product. There are several factors that will determine the right hearing aid for you. It takes a professional to perform an assessment of your hearing loss, how severe it is and how it has occurred. Your ear structures will inform the right solution, including the size and shape of your outer ear and the ear canal. Your hearing professional will also want to learn a little bit about your job, lifestyle, budget, eyesight and dexterity.
Armed with this information, the clinician will then be able to assist in choosing the right device for you. Hearing instruments sold through reputable clinics also come equipped with all sorts of technologies to help enhance enjoyment of certain activities, like live streaming music or TV straight to your ears!
Another thing you might not know is that for new users, hearing aids require a bit of an adjustment period – you will notice benefits straight away but it can take a few months to get things just perfect! This is especially true if you have been living with hearing loss for some time, as it takes a while for your ears and brain to work together again, and ‘relearn’ certain sounds. During this time, your clinician will work with you to make the necessary tweaks to your instrument. This includes ensuring the settings are at a safe and comfortable volume, so you won’t feel overwhelmed by all the long-forgotten sounds!
The ‘bargain’ hearing aids you might see online are often simply ‘amplifiers’. Amplifiers alone can’t differentiate between sounds, and will make all of the ambient noises around you much louder, instead of just the ones you want to hear – like voices. This can be frustrating and confusing, and excessive volume so close to the delicate inner ear can actually cause further irreversible hearing damage.
Hearing instruments which are professionally-fitted and sold through accredited clinics are able to combat these issues through sophisticated technologies. Think, devices with the ability to separate human voices from background noise – which comes in really handy if you love to socialise and eat out with friends at busy bars and restaurants.
When you consider all of the above, it really is a false economy to succumb to the temptation of a hearing instrument ‘bargain buy’. Enjoy the fun, convenience and savings of online shopping for your clothes, homewares and groceries, but leave the medical devices to the professionals!
If you’re in the market for hearings aids, the best way forward is to speak to a hearing health professional at your local ihear clinic. Book a free online hearing check or call 1300 015 227.