Guide to Buying Hearing Aids Online

Buying a hearing aids online is a great option for those who are looking for alternatives to the high priced traditional hearing aids that are available in retail stores. Over-the-counter or non-prescription hearing aids that are bought through websites can cost as little as $300 per ear and can feature similar technology that are offered on hearing aids that cost $2000 or more.

Who Should Consider Buying Hearing Aids Online

  • If you are unable to or just don’t want to spend between $4000 and $8000 on traditional hearing aids and are looking for a more reasonable, low cost option to help deal with hearing loss.
  • If you don’t mind doing a little bit of cleaning and maintenance on your hearing aid yourself. Some aids offer technology that lets you adjust your aid in the comfort of your own home so you don’t have to go in for appointments.
  • Individuals who will not go to a go to a professional audiologist under any circumstances. Some people have an aversion to doctors and refuse to visit them. It isn’t that common and isn’t ideal, but if you don’t like visiting doctors and are having hearing issues, hearing aid websites are an option worth exploring.
  • You are comfortable contacting the website for help and support.  You need to be willing to use the website’s online support whether it is live chat, phone or email support.
  • You are comfortable being parted from your hearing aid if it has to be shipped back to the manufacturer for repairs.
  • Your budget allows for only $300 per ear for the hearing aids. The online aids are much cheaper than traditional hearing aids, but they do still cost a good amount of money if you are on a fixed income (although some sites do offer financing).

Who Should Not Buy Hearing Aids Online

  • Individuals who need to have face to face support with their hearing aids.
  • Those who have difficulty cleaning and maintaining their aids on their own.
  • Those who have profound hearing loss.
  • You should not buy hearing aids for children online.

What kind of help and support can you get from an online hearing aid website?

With a hearing aid website you should expect to have access to well informed customer service teams, as well as instructional emails and videos. You should be able to get some guidance with maintenance and minor repairs that are usually straightforward and can be done by users. For major repairs and reprogramming, the hearing aids will have to be returned to the online retailer who will usually turn around your repair in a few days.

What should you look for in an online hearing aid retailer?

There are a few key things you should look for in an online hearing aid retailer. First, make sure anywhere you are considering buying from has a really good return policy. There is a good chance you may not like the aid that you end up ordering or that it may not work well for you. If that happens you need to be able to return the device hassle free.

You should look for a company that is going to provide, helpful, informative support and advice without high pressure sales tactics.

Finally you will want a company that sells good quality aids for a fair price. Check online reviews for any websites you are considering.

Budget

The biggest factor in stopping most people who could really benefit from using a hearing aid is cost. Thankfully online retailers are changing the hearing aid landscape and allowing consumers to purchase highly beneficial aids for a fraction of the cost of traditional aids. The cheapest aid that you will be able to get online is around $300 per ear. Most sites do offer some form of financing.

When you are selecting a model make sure you only buy what you need. Some of the aids that are sold online offer premium features like Bluetooth capability that can drive up the cost and most people don’t need it.

Are online aids as good as retail?

There are a range of options that are available online form budget models to very high end devices. This means that you have access to the same kind of devices and quality that you get from traditional retailers.

If you are interested in higher end aids that have the best level of performance you could have a look at some of Embrace Hearing options. They offer custom programmed (by a professional audiologist) European BTE/RIC (Behind the Ear; Receiver in Canal) that have all of the advanced features and top level performance that would cost over $4000 per ear from traditional retailers, but Embrace sell them for less than $2400.

What will you miss out on if you buy online?

The main thing that you will miss out on if you buy online is having face to face service. For some consumers this is a good reason to not buy online, but keep in mind that the in person service does cost you. In some cases you may be paying thousands more if you opt for a retailer rather than buying online. You will also not have the access to have someone else do the basic maintenance, cleaning and adjustment of your device.

What are the advantages of buying online?

Buying hearing aids online have a few advantages over traditional brick and mortar stores. Price is the obviously the biggest advantage over other channels of getting hearing aids. You will pay much less when you buy online. Online retailers also usually have very good return policies and they are convenient because you can access their online support quickly and easily without having to wait for an appointment or leave your house.

What does the process involve?

Hearing test

Before buying a hearing aid you should have a hearing test done. You can then use the results to help the online hearing aid retailer to ensure you get the best hearing aid for your needs. Some websites offer their own hearing tests that are done online using a pair of headphones.

Talking to customer service

Your best resource when shopping for a hearing aid online is each retailers online support. Most hearing aid websites have excellent support that can help guide you in your purchase. For the most part they won’t try to upsell you with expensive features, but rather help you find what is best for your needs and your budget. The customer support may ask about your manual dexterity and vision since they can affect whether or not a particular model is a good option for you.

Choosing a model

If you would prefer not to speak to customer support about which model to get, make sure you take time to read any reviews that are available for particular models and also read the products description very carefully.

Receiving it in the mail

When you get your hearing aid, the package should contain general instruction how to use, clean, and store the hearing aid, as well as troubleshooting instructions. You should also be given information about how to purchase the correct size of battery as well as instructions on how to store, change, or recharge the battery.  

Adjustments

Some of the models of hearing aids do allow for adjustments, depending on what you buy. The website will offer either support over phone to help you adjust the device or if you have a programmable model, you may need to send it back the the company for adjustments.

Returns

The top online hearing aid retailers are very good about letting you return with no questions asked if you find the aids aren’t working for you. A couple of sites do charge return fees, after a certain point but these are fairly rare.

Getting used to Hearing Aids

Once you have received your hearing aid, it is now time to put it in and start the adjustment period. Unfortunately it takes between 2-3 weeks for your brain to fully adjust to processing the sound from the hearing aids. Many people give up and and feel the aids don’t work if they aren’t aware that it takes some time.

Follow up

Any website you buy a hearing aid from do a follow up through a phone call or email to ensure that the aid is comfortable and that they are working effectively for you. They should also answer any questions that you have about the product.

If you feel you will not get this level of support from a website do not purchase and look for other options instead.

When to see your healthcare provider

Buying online can be a wonderful cost saving option for a lot of people who have hearing loss, but it is not the best choice for everyone. If you aren’t sure about your hearing loss and experience any of the following you should see your healthcare professional:

  • If you have a visible deformity of the ear
  • If you have had any fluid or drainage from the ear within the past 90 days
  • If you have had unexpected or a fluctuation in hearing loss
  • If you have experienced dizziness
  • Ringing in one or both ears
  • Ear canal blockage
  • Ear infection
  • Excessive wax buildup
  • Pain or discomfort in the ear

Features to Look for

The most popular hearing aids have a number of different program settings for different situations, they are able to filter out background noise, and can be programmed to match your hearing loss. Higher end models are able to do things like use the wireless technology on your smartphone to take calls and stream audio. The following are some of the most popular features to be aware of:

Multiple program settings- One of the most useful options to look for are devices that come with multiple program settings. This just means that you can adjust the device easily, usually with the push of a button on less expensive aids to adjust to either loud settings like a mall or quieter settings like when you are having a conversation in a quiet room, or a different setting if you are listening to music.

Automatic noise level adjustment –A nice to have feature is noise level adjustment. Generally this feature isn’t available on the budget models, the less expensive options have a manual volume control and a manual option to change the program settings for different environments. More expensive models will adjust the noise level automatically for different environments.

Directional Microphone

A hearing aid that contain a directional microphone will help you to hear conversations better when you are in noisy situations like a restaurant. The benefit of a directional microphone is that it makes the sound in front of you louder. Often if there is a directional microphone there will also be an omnidirectional microphone as well that will pick up sounds from the side and back of the listener, and then the hearing aid processor will determine which microphone to use in various situations. Higher end devices will do this automatically, while more budget model do this by pushing a button to change the microphone.

Feedback Suppression

Feedback suppression or reduction is an important feature to stop high-pitched whistling sounds that can occur if you are near a telephone or the aid isn’t fitted properly. Most hearing aids have this feature.

Digital Noise Reduction

Digital Noise Reduction is useful in noisy environments as it can help  block out some background noise and make it easier to hear conversations

Telecoil

A telecoil is a small sensor that can picks up a wireless signal from hearing-aid-compatible telephones and public address systems or induction loops. These can be helpful for churches or auditoriums.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth wireless technology lets you stream music, TV shows and telephone calls from computers, smartphones, and TVs directly into your hearing aid.

Frequently Asked Questions

What different styles of hearing aids are available?

Digital hearing aids come in five major styles:

  1. Mini-Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid
  2. Traditional Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid (BTE)
  3. Completely-in-the-Canal Hearing Aid (CIC)
  4. In-the-Canal Hearing Aid (IIC)
  5. Traditional In-the-Ear Hearing Aid (ITE)

The most popular style these days is the Mini-Behind-the-Ear Hearing Aid (mBTE).  People love this style because it is usually small enough not to be noticeable, and it is comfortable because it is small and lightweight.

Which style is best for you?

There isn’t really one great aid that will work well for everyone. If you are interested in a particular aid it is best to contact the online website to speak to their support and they will go over with you which options will work best for your lifestyle.  The customer support will usually discuss budget, technology and extra features that are available and make recommendations that you can act on or not.

How long do they last?

On average, hearing aids have an estimated lifespan of three to seven years, depending on the style (some may last longer). Expect to purchase new hearing aids every 5 years. 

How much do online hearing aids cost?

You can get budget models of hearing online for approximately $300 per ear and you can go up to $2000 for higher end models with the latest cutting edge technology that you would be paying $4000 elsewhere.

Which hearing aid should I buy?

The right hearing aid for you depends on several factors, including the type and severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle, and your manual dexterity. It is best to do as much research as you can and then contact customer support for any brands or models that you are interested in to get further guidance on whether  a particular model will work well for you.

 

How will I know if hearing aids will work for me?

The best way to know the hearing will work for you is to purchase an aid from a company with a robust return policy or a site that offers a trial period so that you can test the aid out. After the initial adjustment period of a few weeks where your brain learns to adapt to the sound, you will have a pretty good idea if the aid is working for you or not. If it doesn’t work, return it.

Should I buy 1 hearing aid or 2 hearing aids?

The hearing aid website may recommend purchasing two hearing aids if you have hearing loss in both ears. Understandably you may want to save money by purchasing only one aid but if you have loss in both ears and only wear one aid, you will still have difficulty hearing.

Can I use hearing aids with eyeglasses?

For the most part, yes, you can still wear most styles of hearing aids if you are also wearing glasses. The best styles to wear with glasses are the in-the-ear and in-the-canal styles, but you can still wear behind the styles if you put on your glasses and then put in your hearing aid. Some people may find the behind the ear style is a bit uncomfortable with glasses, but it may just take a little bit of time to find the right position.

Can I finance my hearing aids?

A number of the online hearing aid websites offer financing for their products. See Audicus, Embrace, Eargo, MD Hearing Aid.

What do you need to know about warranties for online aids?

Not only should you research the length of the warranty of any hearing aids you are thinking about purchasing online, you should make sure you have a clear understanding of what the warranty covers (adjustments, loss, damage). Warranty policies do differ between different brands, so it is important you understand exactly what is included in the cost you are paying.

What should you know about return policies?

One of the most important things to do when buying a hearing aid online is to ensure that you fully understand the return policy before you buy anything. Do not buy from a website that does not allow you to return your hearing aids and get your money back if you are not satisfied. You should also be aware of the length of any trial periods that are offered and keep track of dates of purchase.