Online Hearing Devices
Ca·ve·at emp·tor, Let the Buyer Beware! Cons of Online Hearing Device Sales
Current control of dispensing hearing aids falls under the authority of the FDA. Hearing aids continue to be restricted devices, for which sales must follow applicable federal and state requirements. Online sales of this type of device is prohibited. Most manufacturers of hearing aids will not honor warranties for devices purchased online. Online sellers are typically being handled without manufacturer knowledge and are hit with a cease and desist order fairly quickly. So if buying online, you are at risk of substantial monetary loss. If your online supplier ceases to exist, you have nowhere to turn and the manufacturer will not assist you.
July 24, 2018 – Status on Over the Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids
In the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (FDARA), Congress outlined certain requirements to establish a category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids and the requirements that apply to them. This statutorily mandated process requires FDA to publish proposed regulations for public comment, and then to publish final regulations.
At this time, there are no products that can claim to address hearing loss that are, or can claim to be OTC hearing aids within the meaning of section 520(q) of the FD&C Act as amended by FDARA. Currently, hearing aids continue to be restricted devices, for which sales must follow applicable federal and state requirements. FDA has published a letter to clarify the status of these products.
Programming hearing aids is actually quite involved. What is on a piece of paper (your audiogram) is one half of the equation. What your brain does with the signal, and even the individual algorithm of that specific manufacturer is something else. Please know that the style and power of hearing aid that you should be wearing is based on the severity of your hearing loss. A great risk and one that should be of greatest concern, is your hearing health. An improperly adjusted hearing aid could actually harm your auditory system, leading to increased hearing loss. While mild hearing losses may be accommodated with an initial fitting, most hearing losses should be fit by programming the hearing aids below the loss and then increasing the hearing aid amplification over time (and several office visits) as the brain accommodates to the increased level of hearing. If hearing 'devices' are purchased online, who will provide these services to you? IF, a local provider has the software to make adjustments there will mostly likely be significant charges incurred. Typically, when purchasing hearing aids thru a local professional, service is included within the purchase price. You may save money initially with an online sale, however, in the long run it may end up costing you a pretty penny. You are on your own and will have to find someone willing to work on hearing aids they did not sell which means you will end up paying for every office visit. This can lead to a significant amount. Most likely more than if you had purchased from a licensed, in office professional.
I would be wary and caution anyone against buying any medical therapy tool that involves the retraining of your brain online without professional advice.
One should take the purchase of a hearing aid seriously and understand that training in hearing sciences is required to properly treat hearing loss. It is in your best interest to find a local healthcare provider that can properly treat your loss and is available for follow-up and future adjustments. The old adage of "getting what you pay for" certainly is true in regards to your hearing health. Remember, there is a significant difference between a hearing aid and hearing amplifier. Ca·ve·at emp·tor, let the buyer beware. If someone is advertising something 'brand new' for $2000 that they supposedly paid $7000 for, then it's probably too good to be true.
Please take your hearing health seriously, you wouldn't trust your heart to an online, DIY pace maker!