Q: What’s the difference between “hearing aids” and the inexpensive “hearing amplifiers” I see in magazines?– Harford County Aegis “Ask a Doctor”
A: Mail order hearing amplifiers are designed to make sounds louder. In a very quiet situation, they can work OK. But they are not programmed specifically for the user, they usually don’t handle background noise very well, and they’re technically not designed to treat hearing loss. Purchasing an amplifier instead of hearing aids would be like purchasing dollar store reading glasses instead of prescription eyeglasses. They’re helpful in limited situations, but not designed for everyday use. Another issue to be aware of is that many of these companies sell their mailing lists to other companies. Even if the device doesn’t work well and you go through the hassle of mailing it back for a refund, they can still make money selling your contact information. I may be a little biased, but I say: Your hearing is too important. Skip the mail order amplifiers and make an appointment with an audiologist.