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Port Jefferson Hearing Blog

Are Purchasing Hearing Aids Online a Wise Choice?

Dr. John Martinetti - Apr 26, 2022
Are Purchasing Hearing Aids Online a Wise Choice?
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Are Purchasing Hearing Aids Online a Wise Choice?

Find Out with our Free Consultation in Port Jefferson NY Offices

What are Over the Counter Hearing Aids?

“If you have trouble hearing conversations in quiet settings—or have trouble hearing loud sounds, such as cars or trucks, noisy appliances, or loud music—consult a hearing health professional.” Quote from National Institute of Health.

"Mail order" hearing aid sales is not a new concept. The idea of buying hearing aids online has been around for decades. The new concept for 2022 is Over-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids. The FDA has issued regulations for a new category of OTC hearing aids. OTC hearing aids are ONLY for age 18 and older with a “perceived” mild to moderate hearing impairment. OTC hearing aids may be sold directly to consumers in stores or online without a medical exam or a fitting by an audiologist. The objective is to lower cost and improve access. The FDA is now finalizing OTC hearing aid regulations. They are expected to be available in 2022. But are they for you?

OTC Hearing Aids
What are Over the Counter Hearing Aids?

Our Opinion of Mail Order Hearing Aids

We know firsthand! We have been providing better hearing healthcare and custom-fit hearing aids on Long Island NY for over 35 years. Recently we are receiving more and more calls from people who have purchased hearing aids on the internet….and they need help. Common complaints:

  • I hear screeches, squeals, loud buzzes, or hissing! Caused by feedback. May require new domes or custom-fit earmolds. Or it just may be ear wax build up. Requires diagnosis.
  • My hearing aids are underpowered! I still can’t hear the TV or conversations in noisy venues! Caused by purchasing the wrong hearing aids and/or hearing aids not custom programmed and tested for your exact hearing loss. Or has your hearing changed? Requires diagnosis and possibly reprogramming.
  • Too much background noise! May need to activate or adjust the device’s directional microphone, or use a separate remote microphone. Requires diagnosis.
  • My hearing aids just stopped working! Could be a range of issues from dead battery to equipment failures. Requires diagnosis and possibly loaners.
  • I can’t pair my hearing aids with my mobile phone! I also hear a buzzing sound while using my phone! Is your phone compatible with your hearing aid model. Make adjustments to phone and hearing aid settings.

The selection, acquisition and fitting and maintenance of hearing aids and amplification devices requires professional knowledge, tools and services. Hearing aids work best when they are personalized to the individual’s hearing loss. Will your online vendor be there to take care of you? And in what time frame?

Our Opinion of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

The OTC Hearing Aid Act went into effect around four years ago in 2017. The new regulations have now been pushed out repeatedly. Was the FDA approving OTC hearing aids wise or even possible? To meet FDA guidelines, hearing aids must prove they are both safe and effective. There is still discussion of how to accomplish those two goals. For example, over-amplification to the ear could cause permanent tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or additional hearing loss. And how does a patient diagnose weather they have mild, moderate or severe hearing loss? Hearing loss is often progressive. It may begin as a mild loss; it may not stay that way. OTC hearing aids might be less expensive to acquire but it doesn’t mean your cost of ownership will be less. And will they be effective for your particular life-style? The most expensive hearing aids are the ones that are never worn.

What are those Internet Hearing Aids I see Online?

Many of these devices are not true hearing aids, but are "hearing amplifiers," also known as PSAPs. They are not intended for use by people with hearing loss, which the FDA plans to address. They basically take the noise in your environment and amplify all of it. However, there are some true hearing aids now being sold online deliverable to some states. You submit your audiogram test online; they program the hearing aids for you and they arrive in mail.

Compare Port Jefferson Full-Service Hearing Services with Online Hearing Aids?

Our main product is better hearing healthcare. To that end, hearing aids may be a part of the equation. A patient’s satisfaction with hearing aids greatly increases when they are custom-fit for the individual’s hearing loss, lifestyle and budget. And they usually need ongoing adjustments.

OTC vs Online Chart
What are Over the Counter Hearing Aids?

Final Thoughts for Suffolk County NY Residents

Before purchasing online and/or OTC hearing aids schedule an appointment with our audiology practice. We strongly advise always having your hearing checked by an audiologist before deciding to proceed with any hearing aid - OTC or full-service. In any case, we will give you the honest advice needed to guide your decision. Paying less for a device that you will not wear nor improves your life isn’t a bargain – it’s selling yourself short on living your best life.

Our low pricing on full-service brand-name hearing aids is the best value-based pricing in Suffolk County NY. All prices are clearly stated on our website.

The American Academy of Audiology, American Speech Language Hearing Association, American Academy of Dispensing Audiologists and New York State Hearing Aid Dispensing Laws all require:

  • Real Ear/Speech Mapping Hearing Aid Fitting Verification
  • Speech in Noise Aided Testing
  • Understanding of Induction Loop Technology and Adjustments as Needed
  • Hands on Personal Care to Demonstrate How to Correctly Wear Hearing Aids and Maintain Daily Care

At Port Jefferson Audiology we do all of the above. Thank you and please call with any questions or to make an appointment

 Dr. John Martinetti, Au.D. Board Certified Audiologist

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