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Guide for buying hearing devices
This guest post has been written by the New Zealand Audiological Society (NZAS) to help raise awareness.1 February 2019
This guest post has been written by the New Zealand Audiological Society (NZAS) to help raise awareness of the issues that should be considered when buying hearing devices.
Trade Me notes that there are many kinds of hearing devices available and urges members who are considering buying to think about the issues raised in this post.
Hearing aids are now fully programmable, mini-computers which are constantly analysing the acoustic environment and making ‘decisions’ about what to do in a given environment.
The days of devices that merely amplify noise are long gone.With the range of types, styles, technology levels and price-brackets available, aids should be matched to both user needs and hearing loss types.
Aids need to be programmed using manufacturers’ software, and through a computer.
While the NZAS cautions against making a purchase decision without first consulting with a skilled clinician, these factors should be taken into consideration when deciding to buy hearing aids online.
Should a purchase be made, particularly of a second hand device, they should not be worn or programmed without the wearer having a hearing test in a sound-proofed environment.
A clinician will be able to fit the aids safely, avoiding potential damage to a wearer’s hearing.
Other things to consider:
- Beware of the term ‘analogue aids’ – these have not been available from manufacturers in New Zealand for over ten years, as all the aids now are digital. They may harm your hearing, as they simply make everything louder, including loud sounds.
- Hearing aids will now often have at least 6-8 frequency channels which serve to match the device to a person’s hearing condition. This heightens the need for them to be correctly fitted.
- If you buy second-hand aids, or new aids online, you will not be eligible for NZ Government funding, including ACC and the Ministry of Health subsidy. This is available to every New Zealand resident aged 16 and over, no more than once every 6 years. More info on funding can be found here.
- Consider that second-hand aids may carry fungal or other diseases of the ear.
- Hearing aids for children younger than 16 are free so obtaining them through official channels where they will be safely fitted is a wise path to take.
If you do chose to buy online, the NZ Audiological Society recommends you have your purchases fitted by an NZAS audiologist (bear in mind that audiologists may refuse to fit devices that are unsuitable for your hearing or hearing needs).
NZAS members that are classed as ‘full members’ will have at least five years of university education, and extensive training and experience in hearing aid selection and fitting, as well as access to after-fitting support.
Given the above advice, Trade Me suggests you give full consideration to the purchases you make and consult with health professionals when appropriate.