What are Nano hearing devices?
Nano hearing devices are over-the-counter (OTC) hearing devices manufactured by a company in Minnesota called “Nano.” Nano claims on their website that their hearing devices are less expensive because they “cut out the middleman,” meaning they can be purchased directly from the manufacturer, without a prescription, and without help from an audiologist or ENT.
Previously, there were only two different types of hearing devices. The first was a prescription hearing aid, which is a Class-1 medical device that is fully regulated by the FDA. To receive a prescription a patient would need to visit an audiologist who would do a full diagnostic test & recommend hearing devices. Insurance coverage for prescription hearing aids is mixed–some patients have excellent coverage while others have no coverage.
The second type of hearing device was a Personal Sound Amplification Product (PSAP), which was not regulated by the FDA and provided linear amplification only, meaning it could not meet a specific prescription.
Currently, there is a third category of hearing devices–FDA “registered” hearing devices, such as Nano. When a product is advertised as FDA registered, it simply means that the FDA is aware of the manufacturer and their products. It is not the same as an FDA approval, which means a product has been proven to be safe for use based on sufficient evidence to support this claim.
It is important to note that while Nano advertises their device as a hearing aid, it is not FDA regulated and is therefore not controlled in the same way as a true prescription hearing aid. Thus, Nano simply produces hearing devices.
So, what does this all mean for the patient? If a patient purchases Nano hearing devices, he or she is most likely forgoing a full diagnostic hearing evaluation performed by a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.), and the devices are fit based on a hearing screening the patient performed via their smartphone or computer. This is all done for an extremely low price but what the patient doesn’t see is that he or she may be missing a medical or treatable diagnosis.
Nano hearing devices are not true hearing aids because you do not need a prescription to purchase them. They are also not a PSAP because they operate similarly to a hearing aid, providing more than just linear amplification. Because they are sold online and do not require a prescription, you can cut out the middle man as the company advertises, and that does keep costs lower. However, the middleman in this case, is a doctor with the expertise to help you make the right choice, a focus on what is best for your hearing, and a long-term goal of making sure your hearing aid continues to work and perform well months and years after the purchase.
Background/History Of Nano Hearing Devices
Nano hearing devices are only sold online, straight from the manufacturer, which makes them convenient and quick to receive. Since the company’s inception in 2017, Nano hearing devices have been some of the best-selling online hearing devices in America. The company saw an opportunity because approximately 48 million Americans have some level of hearing loss. However, some of these potential hearing aids customers are dissuaded by the cost even though the hearing aids would provide significant benefit. Nano uses advanced technology, manufactures quality hearing devices, and reaches a group of people in America who benefit from what they provide.
On the other hand, Nano does not employ audiologists, they do not offer fittings or follow up care, and, while they are FDA registered, they are not FDA-approved. In short, the company can get a product into the ears of millions of Americans, but they cannot offer the help and support that people with hearing loss need. Purchasing a hearing aid online from a company like Nano is like purchasing a pair of glasses without having a doctor’s prescription. They may slightly improve your vision, but unless you get really lucky, you will not get the product that provides the optimum benefit you deserve.
Are Nano Hearing Devices Good For Severe Hearing Loss?
One of the biggest negatives for the Nano brand of hearing devices is that they cannot be used for severe hearing loss nor can they take the place of true, FDA-approved, medical hearing aids. If you are looking for a hearing device that may slightly improve your hearing, or if you want something to use occasionally but not for everyday hearing loss, you may settle on a Nano device. On the other hand, if you are suffering from hearing loss that affects your everyday life and you want to be able to hear conversations and television shows again, then you should talk to an audiologist and let them help you find the right hearing aid for your situation.
Nano Hearing Device Price Range
Nano hearing devices run anywhere from $400 to $3,500 and they offer a wide range of styles and features. They focus on more discreet hearing devices because that is a feature that many consumers are looking for. Along with the relatively low price tag, they offer a 45-day return policy and a one year warranty on all products.
Are Nano Hearing Devices A Scam?
Nano hearing devices are not exactly a scam, but they are also not exactly what they claim to be. Like any other online company, Nano accentuates their positives while hiding the negative aspects of their company and product as much as possible. The following will describe why it is always better to purchase a hearing aid from an audiologist than to go through an online or OTC retailer.
To start with, we will list some of the pros and cons of Nano hearing devices so that you can see that, although there are some good things about them, the cons far outweigh the pros.
- The ease of making a purchase online without going to a doctor.
- You do not need hearing tests or a prescription to purchase a Nano hearing aid.
- The devices are cheaper than many other OTC hearing aids and most hearing aids that you can purchase from an audiologist.
- They have more features than average PSAPs.
- They provide some sound environment settings as well as background noise reduction which means they operate as more than simple amplification devices.
- You can use them for 45 days and then return them if they do not work well.
- They are not FDA-approved, and they are not true hearing aids.
- You do not need a hearing test or a prescription so you can purchase these without ever speaking with a doctor. Therefore, you may not identify the cause of your hearing loss or how best to address it.
- There is no fitting, no aftercare, and the only customer support comes in the form of taking back the product if they do not work.
- The hearing test on the Nano website has not been proven to have any effectiveness at all.
- The company gets a “B” from the Better Business Bureau.
- An audiologist can walk you through the costs and help you work with your insurance company. Nana does not offer this.
The bottom line is that your hearing and the health of your ears is too important to entrust to the click of a button on the internet. An audiology clinic can help you through every phase of the process of purchasing a hearing aid. They also ensure you get the exact right one for your needs. It is unlikely that you will purchase the right hearing device from Nano for your hearing loss needs. Although you may notice a slight improvement with Nano hearing devices, an audiologist can help you find the ideal device to address your hearing loss.
Hearing Experts Take On Nano Hearing Devices
If you are experiencing hearing loss, your first step should be finding an audiologist or ENT who can help diagnose your problem. Without being diagnosed by an audiologist, you will never know if your hearing loss is caused by something that can be reversed like a clogged ear or an ear infection. Once your audiologist gives you a checkup and finds that you do, in fact, need a hearing aid, they can walk you through the entire process from start to finish. They will take into account your finances, insurance, degree of hearing loss, and anything else that is important to you and help you find the exact right product for your specific situation.
You could purchase a product online from Nano without ever being diagnosed, with no way of knowing how bad your hearing loss actually is, and without any idea of which device suits your situation. But, making a purchase like this is not ideal. Taking a simple trip to a local audiologist office, on the other hand, will give you an expert who will help you through the entire process including accurately diagnosing your hearing loss. When it comes to your hearing, you should not leave it to chance. Instead, you should find an expert that you trust to help you make the right decisions.