If you had been diagnosed with hearing loss 20 years ago, you would have had only one choice: purchase hearing aids through your audiologist or hearing aid professional. That has simply been the way things are done for many, many years—but change is on the horizon. In fact, in many ways, change is already here when it comes to purchasing hearing aids and other hearing devices.
Beginning this year, several companies are now offering hearing aids available for online purchase. These include Bose, who created their own self-fitted hearing aid, and Walgreens, who partnered with hearing aid maker Lexie Hearing. In addition, highly recognizable companies like Apple, Samsung, and Panasonic will soon join them in becoming hearing aid manufacturers. According to online rumors, even Google has considered getting in the hearing aid game!
So, what does this mean for you as a consumer? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider this news:
- You have options for purchasing hearing aids.
As mentioned above, options for getting hearing aids in the past were pretty limited. Now, you have the choice to purchase a hearing aid through your audiology professional, purchase your devices online, or (in the near future) purchase your hearing aids over-the-counter (OTC).
This variety of purchasing options also brings more variety in pricing. Top-of-the-line, custom hearing aids fitted by your audiology professional can cost thousands of dollars. (It should be kept in mind that hearing aid professionals offer lower-cost options as well.) The current online offerings from Bose and Walgreens fall in the $800-850 range. Over-the-counter hearing aids are likely to bring additional lower-cost devices. This allows you to find the hearing aid that is right for your budget as well as your hearing needs.
- Not all hearing devices are hearing aids.
When you think of managing hearing loss, hearing aids are probably the first solution to come to mind. However, several types of devices are now available, with more coming thanks to continuing audiology research and technological innovation.
For example, there are now headphones and earbuds that correct audio for hearing loss, soundbars that do the same, apps that help you hear better in noise, apps that allow you to personalize your sound experience, and much more. If you have mild hearing loss, these types of devices and apps may be able to help you hear better without the need for hearing aids.
- Audiological research is advancing quickly.
From the advancements in hearing aids and other hearing devices in the last few years, it is apparent that audiological research is moving forward quickly now—and it’s being taken seriously. Companies that never previously ventured into the audiological field are now doing so confidently. In addition, developing technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence are poised to further advance audiology in the coming years.
- Your hearing professional can still guide you through the process.
Whether you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the new choices or simply want to make sure you get the option that’s best for you and your needs, an audiology professional is there to guide you through. Your audiology professional will test your hearing and explain the various options you have, as well as the pros and cons of each. This can help make it easier to see which option is the best fit for you.
To learn more about new hearing aid availability and other hearing devices, we invite you to contact our hearing professional today. We are eager to assist you.