« Health & Fitness

Mail Order & Internet Hearing Aids! Buyers Beware!

by Susan Fenrich

Did you know that it is illegal  Wisconsin Statute 459-02) to sell a hearing aid in the State of Wisconsin without a hearing evaluation first? Unfortunately, many consumers are led to believe by direct mail, magazine and Internet advertisements, that mail order hearing aids are perfectly legal, safe and economical.

Here’s what one website tells you to do:

Need Help Choosing the Correct Hearing Aids for You?
Send us your Audiogram and we will contact you to discuss which Hearing Aid is best for you.

The mere fact that they’re asking a potential patient to submit their own Audiogram tells you that they are not professional dispensers. Every ear is unique and a one-size-fits some approach is not the appropriate method of determining a proper match .

Often the Federal Waiver of Medical Evaluation is rewritten by these mail order companies to include the waiver of a hearing evaluation as well, making it appear to be okay in the consumer’s eyes.  It is really illegal and unethical.  Laws regulating the sale of hearing instruments are put into place to protect the consumer.

There are many reasons why one should have a hearing evaluation and ear exam by a Hearing Instrument Specialist of Audiologist :

  1. To see if earwax is the reason for a hearing loss.
  2. To determine whether or not there is hearing loss.
  3. If there is a hearing loss, to find out what type of hearing loss it is.
  4. To determine if there is some underlying medical condition causing the hearing loss.  Like fluid behind the eardrum, infection, otosclerosis, and tumors.  If any of these go undetected it could be life threatening.
  5. To determine what the amplification specifications of the hearing instrument should be.  If a hearing instrument is too strong it can further damage one’s hearing, and if it’s not strong enough it won’t meet the persons hearing needs.
  6. To make sure a proper ear impression is taken of the ear when the aid is ordered.  It takes special training and lots of practice to make a quality ear impression for a hearing aid and it requires a State License to do so. Consumers should never take their own ear impression! They may not see impacted wax, infection, a perforated eardrum, or any other defects, which would require a physician referral. Also, if an impression is not done correctly it can very easily result in a perforated eardrum.

Buyer Beware!  If you have a hearing loss, have your hearing tested and your ears examined before you purchase a hearing instrument anywhere!  Many State Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialists offer this service FREE of charge .

By Susan L. Fenrich, BC-HIS, Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist, 

Board Certified in Hearing Instrument Sciences