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Ask the Audiologist: Can I Buy Hearing Aids Online?


An increasingly common question our doctors of audiology have heard is if someone can buy hearing aids online. And the answer is—yes, you can buy hearing aids online.

However, buying hearing aids online is a little more complicated than you might expect, and the results may not be up to par with what you get when you work with experienced audiologists.

You Can Buy Hearing Aids Online

When it comes to online shopping, it is instinctual to go to one of the major online retailers like Amazon and just type in “hearing aids”. Problem is, hearing aids are restricted medical devices and will not be for sale on a mass retail site like Amazon.

Now, you may have seen a news headline proclaiming that the FDA has approved the sale of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. While that is technically true, the guidelines for OTC hearing aids are stringent, and at this time, the FDA has not approved of any OTC hearing aids.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find incredibly misleading products. Often, if you search for hearing aids online, you will be awash in products that are called hearing amplifiers. There are variations on the title—such as digital hearing amplifier, hearing amplifier aid, etc.—but these are not hearing aids.

Instead, these devices amplify all sounds indiscriminately. So, not only is the sound of someone talking, but the sound of a door slamming is equally amplified. Not only is that level of overly equal amplification painful, but it often doesn’t address the variations of hearing loss that someone will experience.

Buying Hearing Aids From Authorized Retailers

Those who do legitimately sell hearing aids online are often easy to recognize as they will carry a variety of hearing aids from major hearing aid manufacturers such as Oticon, ReSound, Starkey, and other top hearing aid brands.

Another key indicator that the hearing aid store you are looking at is a real hearing aid seller is if they have local partner requirements. While these stores sell their hearing aids nationally, they will require purchasers to visit with a local partner for a hearing evaluation and hearing aid fitting.

You may also purchase a hearing aid service package with the local partner. But at that point, it may make more sense to just work with the local hearing aid clinic.

Also, if you look for hearing aids online, you should know that there are two types of hearing aid providers—independent and manufacturer-owned. The independent hearing aid providers will equally provide and promote hearing aids, while the manufacturer-owned online stores will generally only promote the hearing aids of the parent company and associated products.

Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying Hearing Aids Online

If you are considering buying hearing aids online, there are a number of considerations that may not have occurred to you, especially if this is the first time that you are going to buy hearing aids. To help you run through the various hurdles you may encounter with hearing aids bought online, consider these questions before you buy.

  • Would I buy prescription glasses without a checkup to get an accurate prescription?
  • Who is going to fit my new hearing aids?
  • How can I tell these hearing aids are the right one for my needs?
  • What do I do if I need my hearing aids repaired?
  • Who will I go to for hearing aid aftercare? How much will these visits cost me?
  • Can I trust online hearing aid reviews, who can easily be made by people who have never used hearing aids?
  • What do I do when my hearing aids stop being as effective as they used to be?

All these questions generally boil down to this—who can I trust to help me with all my hearing health care needs?

Pros And Cons Of Buying A Hearing Aid Online

Okay, all that can be a lot to take in at once. To help break down this further, here are the pros and cons to buying hearing aids online.

Pros Of Buying Hearing Aids Online

  • You can take your time in reading hearing aid reviews, hearing aid comparisons, and consider what hearing aid brand might best suit your needs.
  • Can feel much more convenient to shop then be fitted with hearing aids, rather than be evaluated first.
  • With online hearing aid shopping, you can quickly compare prices.

Problem with most of these pros, you can apply them to working with qualified audiologists like ours at Hearing & Balance Doctors.
When working with our hearing health care professionals, you won’t be pressured to make a snap decision on your hearing aids. Our audiologists will always put your concerns first, from offering you a wide selection of hearing aid styles to finding hearing aids that fit your budget.

Cons Of Buying Hearing Aids Online

  • You may potentially buy hearing aids that don’t suit your level of hearing loss and don’t provide the kind of amplification you want.
  • Not all hearing aid online purchases come with fittings with the local provider. Without having the hearing aids programmed and fitted to your hearing needs, you aren’t getting all the possible benefits.
  • Online hearing aid purchases may have inflated prices due to service bundling, which can cost you more in the end than working with an in-person audiologist.
  • You may be shipped an inferior hearing product but have no way to detect if it is without professional help.
  • There is generally no support after your hearing aids are purchased. So, if you need repairs, additional fittings to reprogram your hearing aids, or other hearing aid needs, you will need to pay for each service individually. Many audiologists offer lifetime service when you buy hearing aids directly from them, rather than online.
  • Some hearing aids that are purchased online can’t be repaired by an in-person hearing aid specialists. There can be many reasons why this is the case, but if you run into this issue, you may be left with $1,000+ of devices you can no longer use.
  • Depending on the hearing aid online store, you may be restricted to a certain handful of hearing aids that they have in stock. Audiologists aren’t restricted in that way, as they can order hearing aids directly from the manufacturer.

As you can see, there are far more cons to purchasing hearing aids online than there are potential pros. Rather than taking a gamble with your hearing health, you may want to opt for working with reputable doctors of audiology from the get-go.

Hearing & Balance Doctors Can Help With All Your Hearing Aid Needs

When you are ready to tackle your hearing needs, Hearing & Balance Doctors are here to help. Our doctors of audiology are highly trained and compassionate, as they understand that dealing with hearing loss is a sensitive issue.

If you choose to work with our audiologists, you will never be left feeling like you aren’t sure what is going on. From explaining the different steps of the diagnostic hearing evaluation, to discussing hearing aids with you and your loved one, you can feel confident when working with our audiologists.

Perhaps even more important, you receive effective hearing aid aftercare assistance. When your new hearing aids arrive, our audiologist will use real-ear measurement, which is a device that allows them to see exactly how your hearing aids are working for you. With this test, they can fine-tune your hearing aids to work more effectively and assist with your hearing loss.

You can also depend on them if something goes wrong. From a damaged receiver to sound distortion, you can visit our hearing clinic and receive assistance from our hearing aid repair lab.

To start work with our doctors of audiology and receive the best care in resolving your hearing loss, contact us today to set up your hearing evaluation and hearing aid demonstration.

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