There are a number of ways to get hearing aids today. “Big box” stores and online retailers offer hearing aids at cut-rate prices, and retail outlets may offer hearing aids from licensed professionals. While these options will certainly provide you with a set of hearing aids, the best way to acquire them is from an audiologist. Let’s talk a little bit about why.
Audiologists are Doctors
Audiologists are not just licensed to sell and program hearing aids. They have received a doctorate in audiology (Au.D.) from an accredited university graduate program. They’re well-versed in the kinds of anomalies and illnesses that can result in hearing and/or balance issues, and can identify them. It may be that your hearing loss has a mixed cause, some of which is treatable, or that your tinnitus is the result of a problem that also has a balance component.
When you see an audiologist about your hearing loss, you’ll get a better picture of the cause. You’ll hear about more treatment options, and you can trust that you’ll be referred directly to the proper medical professional if the cause is medically treatable. Audiologists are specialized to treat hearing loss in people from infancy through adulthood, and are familiar with every known cause of hearing loss in humans.
Audiologists will carefully review your medical history and conduct any number of hearing tests to ensure that they are confident in the cause(s) of your hearing loss. If the cause is not medically treatable, they will be able to determine the best applications of hearing aids, aural rehabilitation or balance therapy.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that audiologists are able to rule out medically treatable causes of hearing loss, or help you get the medical treatment you need to hear your best. They are not just there to sell you a set of hearing aids—they are there to improve your quality of life.
Audiologists Look at Your Whole Lifestyle
When you visit an audiologist, they’ll ask a lot of questions about your background, lifestyle, medical history, and family medical history. It may be the case that you should be wearing hearing aids, or using earplugs more often, or avoiding ototoxic chemicals. They may measure your cognitive functioning to ensure there is not a feedback loop between hearing loss and cognitive impairment, which hearing aids alone will not treat.
“Big box” stores and online retailers do not take a holistic approach to understanding your hearing loss. They will sell you a set of hearing aids and hope for the best. An audiologist will invest more time in really understanding what’s happening between your hearing loss and your brain, and make sure to provide you with the best, ongoing care that is available.
Audiologists Provide Better Products
If you do need hearing aids, the aids you’ll acquire from an audiologist will be far superior to what is available in a “big box” store. Common complaints about low-quality hearing aids are that they don’t sound good, and they pick up radio interference. Adjusting to hearing aids is a process, even when sound quality is pristine, so set yourself up for success by acquiring a top-quality set of hearing aids from an audiologist.
High-quality hearing aids will also last longer, in addition to serving you better for the time you have them. Lower-tier aids are prone to malfunctioning due to lower quality control and poorer materials. Hearing aids spend most of their time in the relatively inhospitable environments in and around our ears. Manufacturing them with lower-quality materials leaves them more prone to damage from skin oils, earwax, sweat and the elements.
Audiologists Know Their Products Better
There are many different types of hearing loss, ear shapes, and lifestyles. The best pair of hearing aids for one person will not work for another. Your audiologist looks carefully at your situation, talks with you, and helps you arrive at the best solution for your hearing loss.
At a “big box” store, you’ll be on your own to select your hearing aids. How will you know what to choose? It’s difficult to do your own research on a product when you don’t know how it will interact with your body and lifestyle.
If you or a loved one may be in need of hearing aids, make an appointment with a licensed audiologist today at our practice, and make sure you’re taking the most comprehensive approach to treating your hearing loss!