Are Cheap Hearing Aids Worth Buying?

All you have to do is turn on your television or open your newspaper and you are bound to see advertisements for very low-priced hearing aids.   Frequently they are as inexpensive as $250 per pair, and they often make claims that they are “as effective as hearing aids that cost thousands”.

The question that many patients ask is WHETHER THE VERY INEXPENSIVE HEARING AIDS ARE WORTH BUYING.   Interestingly, the answer to this question is both YES and NO.   

Let’s explore the question from both sides.

Are cheap hearing aids worth buying?

YES, THEY might be WORTH BUYING.  They are worth buying IF the hearing aids come with a money-back satisfaction guarantee.   This is essential, as most people will not be very happy with the inexpensive hearing aids, and they will know this within a few days of trying them.  

Therefore, if they are not happy, they will have satisfied themselves that they have tried the low-priced hearing aids, and will feel less guilty if they go to an audiologist to try the more expensive prescription devices.   

Another reason why they are worth buying is that there is a small percentage of people who might get some benefit from these devices.  If a patient only has a very mild hearing loss, they might be able to hear somewhat better, because the devices will amplify sounds, which might be all they need.

Why should you be wary of cheap hearing aids?

If you have severe to profound hearing loss, then NO, THEY ARE NOT WORTH BUYING.  

The low-priced hearing aids are called OTC devices (over-the-counter), and many of them are FDA-approved.  

However, there are some significant issues with the OTC devices, as opposed to the Prescription hearing aids a patient would get from a Doctor of Audiology, or a Hearing Instrument Specialist.   

Such issues include:

  • When a patient purchases an inexpensive OTC hearing aid, they are self-diagnosing their hearing problem.  This is very different from what they would experience with an audiologist, who would first determine if the patient has a hearing problem, as often hearing can be improved by simply removing wax build-up in the ear canal.

The audiologist would examine the ear canal to determine if there are obstructions, or if there is an indication that the patient might have some ear disease or a tumor in the ear.  Then the audiologist would give the patient a comprehensive hearing test in a soundproof booth where the patient’s word comprehension and actual level of hearing can be evaluated.  This gives the doctor the information to determine if there is a hearing loss and if so, what type of device would be available to correct the problem.

  • A prescription hearing aid is designed to fit so it provides the maximum benefit for the patient.  This involves having the right size device behind the ear, having the correct length of the wire connector from the device to the ear, and having the right size dome to go into the ear.  
  • The OTC hearing aids are designed as a one-size-fits-all, so it is very common that the hearing aids do not fit properly.
  • When a patient purchases a prescription hearing aid they have the ability to get assistance in using the aid, changing the batteries and filters, and how to connect the hearing aids to various devices.  

In most cases, this assistance is available for several years, at no additional cost.   There is very limited assistance for patients who buy inexpensive hearing aids.

  • Prescription hearing aids also have features that are not available with the low-price devices.   Some examples are:
  • Multi-directional sound identification
  • Discrimination of and reduction of background noises
  • Moisture resistant
  • Ability to Connect to cellphones, computers & televisions
  • Ability to eliminate wind noises
  • Ability to purchase hearing aids that are virtually invisible 
  • Ability to finance the cost of the devices

The Bottomline

Before making a decision whether to purchase cheap hearing aids or more expensive prescription hearing aids from an audiologist, it is recommended that patients visit a doctor of audiology and get a complete hearing test.  

This will determine the extent of the hearing loss ( if there is any) and if there might be other issues affecting any issues with the quality of the patient’s hearing.  Almost all insurance companies will cover 100% of the cost of an annual hearing test.

With the results of the hearing test, it will be possible to make an educated decision as to what type of hearing aids to purchase.

Hearing Aids in New York

At Audio Help Hearing Centers, our objective is to create a comfortable patient experience to maximize your hearing capabilities. You are always our main focus.

We want to get to know you as a person to understand your lifestyle and current hearing condition so we can provide you with the best possible hearing solution. Our initial objective is to determine if you have hearing loss that can be corrected with hearing aids.

Audio Help provides a wide selection of hearing aids in New York City