Audiologist Warn Against Buying Hearing Aids With Out Proper Diagnosis Of Hearing LossTHE ACADEMY OF DOCTORS OF AUDIOLOGY WARNSCONSUMERS AGAINST OBTAINING HEARING AIDS WITHOUTPROPER DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT AND COUNSELING (Lexington, Ky.)--The Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) urges consumers who suspect that they have hearing loss to seek treatment from a licensed audiologist or other hearing healthcare professional to ensure the proper diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, and to identify potentially serious underlying medical conditions. Further, ADA reminds consumers that hearing aidsare not always the recommended course of treatment for hearingloss.“Even when hearing loss is detected through a comprehensiveexamination, hearing aids are not always a recommended courseof treatment,” said ADA President Eric Hagberg, Au.D., “Thepurchase and use of a hearing aid without a proper examination,diagnosis and counseling is a recipe for poor treatment outcomesand increased risks.”Key risks of omitting an evaluation and treatment by a licensedaudiologist or hearing healthcare professional include the misseddiagnosis of a serious underlying health condition that requiresmedical intervention and subsequent hearing loss as a result ofimproper fitting and/or programming of hearing aids.According to the ADA, there are many possible causes of hearingloss including:
•Aging– Hair cell loss from the nerve endings in the cochlea,stiffening of the cochlear structure, or loss of nerve endings onthe acoustic nerve, may be age-related causes of diminishedhearing.•Blockages in the outer ear– Almost anything can block the earcanal and cause hearing loss. Common blockages include earwax,foreign bodies, swelling from allergies or infections, injuries, andbirth defects.•Ear infections– Generally, ear infections cause swelling in themiddle ear, which in turn causes a build up of fluid behind theeardrum.•Fistula– A fistula is an abnormal opening between the middleand inner ear that causes fluid to leak from the inner ear.Symptoms include dizziness, as well as hearing loss.•Head injury– A head injury can damage nerves in the hearingcenters of the brain.•Medication– Some medications have been identified as ototoxicand can cause hearing loss.•Meniere’s Disease – Pressure in the inner ear may causefluctuating hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing sensation), dizzinessand nausea.•Noise– The single most common cause of hearing loss isexposure to loud noise.•Otosclerosis– This is a hereditary disease. New bone growsaround one of the small bones that transmits sound from the
outer ear to the inner ear. This new growth of bone disruptssound transmission.•Tumors– Tumors can be benign or malignant. Depending onwhere the tumor is located, the resulting hearing loss may beeither conductive or sensorineural.Many of these conditions cannot be treated with a hearing aid—and several require immediate medical intervention fortreatment.United Healthcare (UHC), the largest U.S. insurer by revenue,announced on October 3, 2011, that it will provide subscribersand the general public with online hearing testing and allow thepurchase/obtainment of hearing aids via the Internet through itssubsidiary hi Health Innovations.This announcement came on the same day that UHC’s parentcompany, United Health Group, introduced its 2012 MedicarePlans and began marketing to elderly subscribers. Theannouncement also ironically coincided with United HealthGroup’s (United Health Foundation) announcement that it wouldprovide a $50,000 grant to the National Council on Aging (NCOA)so that NCOA can “expand outreach efforts to seniors and agingservices organizations, reminding them to work with health careprofessionals for appropriate (hearing) screening.”The announcement by United Healthcare to offer an onlinediagnostic, treatment and distribution model for hearinghealthcare has prompted growing concerns within the healthcommunity.“This undermines every good practice with regard to hearinghealthcare as this diagnosis and delivery model is unsound,
unsafe and unreliable,” said Dr. Hagberg. “Without the properdiagnosis, counseling, hearing aid fitting and follow-upevaluations, successful treatment for hearing loss cannot beachieved.”On October 26, 2011, the Minnesota Department of Healthreleased a statement stressing the importance of seeing ahearing health practitioner for hearing loss and advising thatfailure to do so “skirts state and federal legal protections andcould result in harm.” Read the full release here:http://www.health.state.mn.us/news/pressrel/2011/hearing102611.html. United Healthcare, UnitedHealth Group, and hi HealthInnovations are all based in Minnetonka, Minnesota.On October 12, 2011, the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) releaseda press release warning consumers against “Do it YourselfHearing Care.” Click here to Read the full release here:http://www.betterhearing.org/press/news/Internet_direct_mail_hearing_aids_pr10122011.cfmOn October 26, 2011, an attorney retained by the InternationalHearing Society (IHS) sent a letter to hi Health Innovationsrequesting that the company cease and desist selling hearing aidsthrough its website. Read the full letter here:http://ihsinfo.org/pdf/IHS_Letter_to_HealthInnovations.pdfOn October 31, 2011, ADA and the American Academy ofAudiology (AAA) sent joint letters to Lisa Tseng, M.D., ChiefExecutive Officer of hi Health Innovations and Rhonda Medows,M.D., Chief Medical Officer of United Health Group, expressingconcerns and requesting additional information regarding theinsurer’s plans for an online hearing healthcare delivery system.Read the letters here:
http://www.audiologist.org/_resources/documents/UHC%20letter%20Oct%2011%20Tseng.pdfhttp://www.audiologist.org/_resources/documents/UHC%20letter%20Oct%2011%20Medows.pdfIntricon Corporation, headquartered in Arden Hills, Minnesota,has been contracted to manufacture the hearing aids sold by hiHealth Innovations, whose parent company is UnitedHealthGroup. This goes against the common practice within the hearingaid manufacturing community. In fact, most hearing aidmanufacturers have made public statements that they will notallow their hearing aids to be sold online. “Thankfully most hearing aid manufacturers will not allow theirhearing aids to be sold or purchased without a face-to-faceconsultation with a licensed practitioner, because they toorecognize the inherent risks associated with the purchase and useof hearing aids without the proper counseling and fitting that onlya licensed hearing healthcare professional can provide.”Hearing aids are medical devices regulated by the U.S. Food andDrug Administration (FDA) and must be recommended, sold andfit by qualified health professionals.http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?FR=801.420Further, all 50 states require licensure for the dispensing ofhearing aids. http://www.audiologist.org/resources/state-licensure.htmlThe ADA urges consumers to seek proper diagnosis, treatmentand counseling for suspected hearing loss. To find a licensed ADAmember in your area, visithttp://www.audiologist.org/audiologist-directory.html.
Other Useful Resources• Consumer Reports Hearing Aid Checklist:http://www.consumerreports.org/health/healthy-living/home-medical-supplies/hearing/hearing-aids/buying-tips-a-checklist/hearing-aids-before-you-buy.htm• National Institute on Deafness and Other CommunicationDisorder(NIDCD):http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/hearingaid.aspx• Better Hearing Institute (BHI): http://www.betterhearing.org/• Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) Position Statementon Hearing Aids for People with Hearing Loss:http://hlaaleaderswiki.wikispaces.com/file/view/Position+Statement+on+Hearing+Aids+for+People+with+Hearing+Loss.pdfAbout ADAThe Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) is a leading nationalorganization of practicing audiologists. ADA is dedicated to theadvancement of practitioner excellence, high ethical standards,professional autonomy and sound business practices in theprovision of quality audiologic care. For more information, visitwww.audiologist.org.
For More Information, Call Atlanta Hearing Associates At: (770) 574-4819 Or Visit Us At: http://hearing-aids-atlanta-ga.comFor More Information, Call Atlanta Hearing Associates At: (770) 574-4819 Or Visit Us At: http://hearing-aids-atlanta-ga.com