About 2% of older adults have hearing loss that results in a disruption to their livelihoods. If one or more essential tasks have become difficult for you as a result of hearing loss, buying a hearing aid can make your life easier and far more enjoyable.
But as anyone who’s gone through the process before knows, buying a quality, brand-new device can be expensive.
One popular way to cut down on overhead costs and doctor’s visits is to get hearing aids online. Here’s how to navigate the process of getting hearing aids online for yourself.
Reasons To Buy Hearing Aids Online
Buying online is convenient and doesn’t require you to book a visit with an audiologist. In the post-COVID-19 era, many older patients with hearing deficiencies may actively avoid making unnecessary doctor’s visits. Visiting with a qualified audiologist, however, is often essential for obtaining the necessary tests and diagnoses that you need to determine which hearing aid is appropriate for you, so skipping a visit shouldn’t be seen as a true benefit of buying online.
So, why should I buy online if I still have to visit an audiologist? For most, the answer is cost savings. Hearing aids can be expected to cost between hundreds and thousands of dollars. Purchasing online is often the most direct way to buy, and doing so can save you a lot on overhead costs. Dealing with customer service is frequently easier than dealing with audiology clinics for minor fixes and repairs, so buying online can save you both time and money.
Trade-Offs When Buying Hearing Aids Online
There are, of course, many tradeoffs you make when you get hearing aids online. There are thousands of hearing aids available for purchase online, but a much smaller number of reputable brands with quality products. Brands making outlandish claims about their products’ effectiveness at treating various types of hearing loss are sometimes convincing enough that customers spend years fumbling with faulty technology before opting for a higher quality product.
Customer Service and Maintenance
When purchasing a hearing aid product online from a relatively unknown company, you’re subjecting yourself to the limits of the customer service of the company in question. While brand-name products are generally expensive, they often feature excellent warranties and customer service and many can be taken into an audiologist’s office for repair or maintenance.
Both brand-name and private-name hearing aids can be found online, so finding the right product from the convenience of your keyboard can sometimes be confusing. Older individuals unaccustomed to searching online may prefer to simply visit with a doctor.
Depending on the type of hearing aid you need, fit can be extremely important to the proper function of your device. In many cases, an improper fit can render a product virtually useless. When buying online, you usually have two options for fitting: buying a product that purports not to require fitting and using a company that provides service as part of the purchase.
The types of hearing aids currently available include:
- Open fit
- Behind the ear
- In the ear
- In the canal
- Completely in the canal
Except for open-fit products, all hearing devices need to be fitted before use. Though open-fit hearing aids don’t require a molded fitting, they can be uncomfortable and may not work properly with your ears. For the vast majority of hearing aids and patients, an unfitted hearing aid is a poor investment. Finding a company that offers either remote or in-person customer service, therefore, is extremely important for getting the most out of your purchase.
Companies that sell adjustable hearing aids online may take different approaches to fitting. Some simply provide fitting tools and supplies, while others allow for minor adjustments in the design of their products. The best choice for you is a matter of preference.
Hearing Tests for Proper Calibration
While laws have fluctuated over the past several years regarding hearing tests, obtaining a hearing test from an audiologist is nevertheless critical for ensuring that your device is properly calibrated to your hearing and circumstances. While some companies accept hearing tests that were performed on a computer at home, these tests are unreliable and are likely to result in a faulty product.
Ways To Find Devices
There are a daunting number of companies online that sell hearing aids. As you should at some point have been in communication with a medical professional at the time of purchase, however, you should have some idea of the type of hearing aid you need, as well as other important personal considerations.
Amazon might not be the first name you associate with reliable products, as news of various counterfeit supplements and dubious copies of other items have recently emerged in the news. Fortunately, most of these problems are fairly easy to sort out by simply verifying that the seller listed on a given amazon page is linked to and from a company website.
Obviously, Amazon isn’t a producer of medical devices, but it does have a strong return policy for virtually all of the products listed on the site. If you buy from Amazon and find that a product doesn’t suit your needs, you can return it easily. Keep in mind that buying and returning products can cost you in time and shipping. If the time and money you lose buying and returning items don’t seem worth it, consider making a purchase in person.
2. Individual Company Websites
As Amazon is basically an intermediary for other companies, a more direct way to get hearing aids online is through individual company websites for the products you’re interested in. Since every company is likely to differ in the warranties, guarantees, shipping times, and return policies they offer, it’s impossible to say whether buying from an individual company is preferable to buying devices from Amazon or other major retailers without examining specific examples. Here are a few of the best companies to buy hearing aids from.
Eargo is a respected name in mild to moderate high-frequency hearing loss. Eargo products are relatively expensive, but they are also among the most invisible of all popular hearing aids and come with a 45-day guarantee. The company also guarantees fast shipping and links customers to a doctor for necessary adjustments. The company’s support is about as robust as any hearing aid company that does business online. Importantly, its website makes no dramatic or unrealistic claims about its products, and this is always a good sign.
Otofonix’s website features several products that range in price from a few hundred to well over a thousand dollars, depending on company deals and discounts. Each product is intended to treat a different range of hearing loss, so the full spectrum of choices is likely to satisfy the majority of customers. All products can be fitted to some extent with different tube and dome options, and the company hosts a support line to help with fitting.
Lexie Hearing is a relatively new company whose mission statement is that it seeks to fix “everything that is broken with hearing aids.” Lexie’s devices are fairly discreet and feature Bluetooth settings so volume and pitch can be adjusted from an app on your phone. Interestingly, the app also features a fitting guide and proprietary hearing test to diagnose the extent of your hearing loss.
The company does not accept professional audiograms, which may be a red flag for some. It does, however, provide a video chat with a support specialist when needed. Overall, Lexie Hearing is probably the most comprehensive solution to hearing loss that you can find online, as purchasing, testing, and fitting can all be done remotely. This convenience, however, may come at a marginal cost in efficacy.
3. From Your Doctor’s Office
While your audiologist is likely to have some hearing aids in stock, it is an increasingly common practice to have hearing aids shipped to you from your doctor’s office. This is often the most expensive way to purchase hearing aids, but it allows you to verify the quality of a given product through the expertise of your doctor. It also gives you the chance to ask whether your doctor can adjust or calibrate devices, which can save you money in the long run when the time comes to repair or replace a device.
It’s important to remember that all hearing aids undergo extremely rigorous conditions when being used. As hearing aids essentially live on you at all times, they become exposed to atmospheric conditions, physical impacts, vibrations, UV rays, heat, and cold. This is why every device eventually fails. When considering the cost of a particular model, understand that money spent now can save you on costs later. Additionally, having the option to adjust or repair a device through your doctor’s office or a customer service line can be worth a lot over time.
When you get hearing aids online, you’re investing in your quality of life. There are deals to be had, but there are also scams and predatory companies to watch out for. Use careful discretion and speak with a professional whenever possible.