Why “FREE” When it Comes to a Hearing Test Isn’t Always a Bargain



Dr. Indira Alvarez

If you suspect you have hearing loss or wear hearing aids, I’m sure you’ve seen the myriad of ads in the newspaper touting the “FREE HEARING TEST” or “CLEAN AND CHECK FREE HEARING AIDS » … at first glance this may seem very appealing. Free is good, right? Well, not always…

Due to advertising and messaging regarding hearing aids and hearing care in general, many people tend to view hearing aids as a commodity, in which no matter where or how you get one, the result is the same. When it comes to hearing care though, it’s not that simple.

Over the next few months, we’ll look at the keys to success with hearing aids and why they’re important to treating your hearing loss and living the best life possible.

First, you should undergo a full hearing evaluation, preferably by a Doctor of Audiology, especially if you have never had a hearing test before. Although for most patients the most appropriate treatment for their hearing loss is actually amplification (hearing aids), for some patients there are other underlying conditions that may affect your diagnosis. For example, if you have an anatomical abnormality behind the eardrum or a history of recurrent ear infections; these types of problems are often not visible by looking in the ear or simply testing the sound. Advanced testing and evaluation by a doctor of audiology will reveal this type of problem and they may, if necessary, recommend surgical correction. In my 15 years of clinical practice, I have identified many patients who inadvertently purchased hearing aids when they needed simple surgery to correct their hearing loss. They ended up in my office dissatisfied with their devices when the problem had nothing to do with the hearing aids and unfortunately at that point the surgical option was no longer appropriate. Additionally, a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation provides the basis for the recommendation of the correct hearing aids and the data for the prescription and fitting of the hearing aids, if in fact the appropriate solution for the hearing loss. If the examination is not completed, some of this crucial information is not available and is therefore not taken into account when selecting and fitting the hearing aid. This may result in the wrong hearing aid being selected and/or the devices being fitted incorrectly since the prescription is derived from the results of the hearing test. Hearing assessments require precisely calibrated equipment, a soundproof booth, and an experienced, qualified professional to administer the test. As with all other medical specialties, such as podiatry or optometry, qualified and competent audiologists must be compensated for their expertise and the cost of the equipment and facilities needed to provide these services. In fact, most insurance covers a full exam with an audiologist at no cost to you or with a small copayment, depending on your plan.

So if you see “FREE HEARING TESTS” be sure to ask about qualifications and details of what you’re actually getting for “FREE”. It may not be as good a deal as it seems. Your hearing health and your quality of life are too important!

At Palm Coast Hearing Center, our mission is not only to provide the best hearing care possible, but to educate the community and help all patients make informed decisions so they can get the care they need. and they deserve. Visit our website, www.palmcoasthearingcenter.com to find out more and make an appointment. We also have locations to serve you in Ormond and New Smyrna Beach, www.ormondhearingcenter.comand www.newsmyrnahearingcenter. com.


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