The internet and its myriad of online resources gives us access to almost any piece of information we might need in the modern world. Unfortunately, with that pile of knowledge comes swaths of misinformation.
For those who experience hearing loss or need to know more about hearing aids, getting the right diagnosis and correct information is vital for successful treatment and safe, effective hearing health care.
The Right Choices
When it comes to hearing aids, the internet is full of misinformation, false claims and phony news articles. That’s why we want to make sure you and your loved ones know what to look out for to make an educated decision and not get scammed.
The Federal Trade Commission website offers several suggestions to help individuals with hearing loss navigate the web with a more open mind. Some of the baseline suggestions on what to avoid are as follows:
- Never do business with any person or site that says “no prescription or audiogram needed”
- Don’t believe in any dramatic claims, such as products or devices that offer to “reverse” or “completely cure” hearing loss.
- Be weary of “limited time offers” from sites or stores that do not have licensed, accredited audiologists
- When in doubt, avoid all direct-to-consumer hearing aid sellers that don’t require a prescription
Stay Mindful When Shopping for Hearing Aids
Purchasing hearing aids or devices directly from big box retailers may seem like a cheaper option, but you will not receive the care that you can get from a licensed audiologist. Furthermore, many direct-to-consumer retailers might also pack in hidden fees and upcharges that can catch you off guard.
If you’re shopping around for hearing aids, assistive listening devices or other hearing technology, remember that many hearing aids offered directly through online marketplaces are often not legitimate hearing devices. They are often amplifiers that do not actually help treat hearing loss.
The FTC also wants to know if you believe you’ve encountered any sort of illegitimate storefront or scams out in the wild.If you think you’ve spotted a person or store up to no good, tell your friends and family so they can protect themselves, then report it to the FTC. Your reports help law enforcement partners build cases and stop scammers.
ReportFraud.ftc.gov is the federal government’s website where you can report fraud, scams, and bad business practices.
Audiologist and Dispensers: What’s the Difference?
It’s essential to remember that only a board-certified audiologist can completely treat your hearing loss. Licensed hearing aid dispensers can still prescribe or sell hearing aids in many cases, though this should still warrant an extensive evaluation from a medical professional.
While shopping around, you should remember the following:
- An audiologist is a board-certified expert who evaluates hearing levels and can fit hearing aids. An audiologist has at least a master’s degree and specialized training. Several now even have a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) or Ph.D.
- Though still well-qualified to fit hearing aids, a hearing aid dispenser has not yet received a doctorate level of education or medical training, but is authorized by state law to measure hearing, fit and sell hearing aids. Hearing aid dispenser requirements can vary by state and commonly involves an apprenticeship with a certified dispenser and passing a hearing aids knowledge test. Retail and big box stores typically employ hearing aid dispensers.
Have more questions? The experts at M.K. Larson Audiology can also help you navigate the world of hearing aid technology and proper choices to make on your own hearing health care journey. Call us to schedule an appointment today!