- 1 How Cheap is Cheap? How Cheap is Too Cheap?
- 2 Is It Possible to Buy Hearing Aids Online?
- 3 Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids – What Are They?
- 4 Risks Involving Cheap Hearing Aids and Devices
How Cheap is Cheap? How Cheap is Too Cheap?
Your average hearing aid is expensive – for many, surprisingly so. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, hearing aids cost an average of $2,300 and upwards of $5,000 to $6,000. It’s no wonder people look for cheaper alternatives or just give up on hearing aids altogether! There is a reason for this high price, however. Hearing aids are FDA-regulated medical devices tailor-made for each specific patient; therefore, part of the costs includes all the procedures and consultations necessary for your specific experience.
Meanwhile, a cursory glance at Google or Amazon shows cheap hearing aids and devices starting from as low as $25! That’s quite the difference in price. Why are they so cheap?
First, these devices often lack the customization and programmability of traditional hearing aids. Rather than being able to fine-tune settings and frequencies to your own specific ear, they have a one-size-fits-all type approach and tend to just amplify all sounds equally.
Furthermore, these types of devices are purchasable online without any type of prescription – they do not fall under the FDA’s established regulations. These are in fact not hearing aids, but PSAP (personal sound amplifiers) or hearing amplifiers. This is a very important distinction that anyone interested in cheap hearing aids should be aware of; especially when looking online.
Make sure you read the text and labels closely – does it say “hearing/sound amplifier” anywhere in the product name or description? If so, then it is most likely not a hearing aid and you should consult with an audiologist first.
Is It Possible to Buy Hearing Aids Online?
The short answer is “No – as of now.”
Hearing aids are medical devices that the FDA regulates and administers, which means that patients will need medical examinations by licensed doctors to purchase one. As the FDA puts it, “hearing aids continue to be restricted devices, for which sales must follow applicable federal and state requirements”. Although some sellers offer online hearing tests that are able to diagnose you with a certain degree of hearing loss, they cannot determine physical attributes, such as having too much ear wax, as a possible cause of loss of hearing.
Therefore, to purchase a hearing aid, it is required to see a doctor who specializes in hearing issues.
Just like every person is unique, every hearing issue is unique. Hearing aids need to be prescribed to fit each patient’s precise ear canal shape, hearing condition, and also their lifestyle; especially considering that once purchased, they will be a part of your everyday life.
So, if you are looking into the hearing aid market and are looking to purchase a device online, remember that you can only buy legitimate hearing aids with a prescription and that you should get professional help from an audiologist before purchasing.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids – What Are They?
Remember that as of now, you can’t buy hearing aids online. This may change in the near future as OTC hearing aids become readily available. So, what are they?
OTC hearing aids are a new category of hearing aids that will soon allow consumers to be able to buy hearing aids directly from stores without visiting a hearing health professional. These devices will be intended to help adults who believe they have mild to moderate hearing loss. OTC hearing aids will still be regulated by the FDA, but with a different standard than a traditional hearing aid that needs prescriptions.
Also read our article on OTC hearing aids.
When OTC hearing aids become available, you will be able to buy them directly in retail stores and online, so be sure to check us out periodically or the FDA website for hearing aids for the most up-to-date information.
Risks Involving Cheap Hearing Aids and Devices
Further Damage to Your Hearing
Most sound amplifiers, aptly named for what they do, amplify not just the sounds you want to hear, but the ones you do not want to hear as well. While many other medical-grade hearing aids (and our Olive Pro) target certain frequencies, most cheap hearing devices do not. This in turn, may be potentially dangerous and deteriorate your hearing abilities even further by sending high-pitched noises straight into your ear canal. Considering the long-term use of your hearing device, over many months or years, this can be extremely taxing on the brain and can lead to various other health problems like dementia.
They Do Not Cater To Your State of Health
Most cheap hearing devices are one-size-fits-all kinds of products. While the devices may help with your hearing for a given time period, if your hearing issues worsen or change, they most likely will not cater to your changed state of health.
They Are Not Medical Devices Nor Are They FDA Registered
Hearing devices and other sound amplifiers not designed to be medical devices and therefore are not subject to the FDA’s international standards for medical-grade hearing aids. Because of this, their build quality and product quality are wholly untested and often severely lacking.
The information in this guide has been written using the following reliable sources:
asha.org/, starkey.com/, starkey.com/, mayoclinic.org/, fda.gov/