Recent estimates suggest that nearly 1 in 5 Americans has a significant hearing loss.
That means over 48 million people in this country could benefit from improved hearing. And 90% of all hearing losses cannot be cured medically and are best treated with hearing aids.
Many people who could benefit from hearing aids are uncertain where to get them. The following list outlines the most common places where hearing aids can be purchased and some information to consider about each.
#1 – Online
Recently, hearing aids have become available online and hearing aids sometimes can be found at relatively low prices. However, not all online distributors are legitimate.
Many hearing aids offered online are “black market” aids that will be confiscated if discovered.
Additionally, hearing aids purchased online are not fitted to the patient’s ear and often not customized for the patient’s hearing loss.
In order to get service for a hearing aid purchased online, patients typically need to find a local provider and are often left with expensive programming and maintenance fees.
The majority of people who purchase hearing aids online eventually purchase a second set from a trustworthy local audiologist.
#2 – Big Box Stores
Big box retailers have started selling hearing aids in the last decade.
These stores offer hearing aids at discounted prices. They sell hearing aids in volume and treat them like a commodity (like buying tennis shoes or light bulbs).
In other words, hearing aids are usually an afterthought to the big box store’s main goals. The model of service is not designed for long-term patient care or privacy.
Additionally, the level of expertise of the provider can vary widely (very rarely is your provider a doctor and frequently these providers have limited experience with hearing healthcare or hearing aids).
As with online purchases, many people who have obtained hearing aids from a big box store eventually turn to a local professional for help.
#3 – Hearing Aid Dispensers
Hearing aids dispensers have been around for decades. In fact, they are probably the most common and most visible place to buy hearing aids.
Hearing aid dispensers are not audiologists or doctors but often portray themselves as such.
Hearing aid dispensers have the credentials H.I.S. (hearing instrument specialist). Hearing instrument specialists are required to pass a state licensing examination, but their competence and experience can vary greatly.
These offices do not provide diagnostic evaluations for dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, or even the middle or inner ear. They often advertise “free hearing tests” that are just simple hearing screenings.
#4 – Audiology Clinics
Audiology clinics are offices dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of hearing and balance disorders – including dizziness, vertigo, and tinnitus.
The professionals at these clinics are either masters-level audiologists or doctors of audiology. The practice model is designed for long-term patient care and privacy.
The cost of hearing aids at these clinics is sometimes higher than online or big box stores (usually on par with hearing aid dispensers), but the cost typically covers professional fitting, maintenance, and long-term care.
Hearing & Balance Doctors Can Help You Make Your Decision
Our clinic, Hearing and Balance Doctors, is one of the few audiology clinics in Southern Utah.
We are the only private audiology practice in the region staffed entirely by doctors of audiology. We have the highest trained professionals to provide the highest quality of care.
If you or a loved one is one of the 48 million Americans in need of improved hearing, we hope you will consider the pros and cons of the various places where hearing aids are available.
We invite you to meet with one of our doctors to collaboratively create a customized treatment plan. Call us today at (435) 688-8991