Online hearing aids are devices which are purchased online and mailed directly to you.

This typically involves sending a copy of your hearing test results and having the hearing aids “pre-programmed” for you based on your hearing.

The quality and usability of online hearing aids varies greatly and there are many different types of devices you can get.

A New Type of Device

During the pandemic, many of us have shifted our focus online – whether in terms of shopping, entertainment, or even social connections.

The combination of improved technology and the pandemic resulted in online hearing aids being a viable option for many.

The hearing aids are offered at a lower cost but with a major caveat – they come without the associated expertise and service that you get from working directly with a trusted audiologist.

This is something you must bear in mind when browsing online hearing aids, as many people are quick to purchase them without taking into account the lack of expertise and support you will receive.

Our Hearing Aids vs. Online Hearing Aids

Online hearing aids sound great in theory – but as we all know, hearing healthcare is not that simple.

Programming hearing aids is part science (confirming audibility through real ear measurements that vary based on ear canal anatomy and hearing aid fit) and art (taking into account your listening preferences).

We offer over 100 unique hearing aids and we are experts in what we do. How do we decide what is best for you?

Well, we listen to your needs and use the results from your comprehensive hearing evaluation, including most comfortable listening levels, uncomfortable listening levels, acceptable noise levels, and performance in background noise.

We also take into account your ear canal anatomy, cosmetic preferences, and comfort considerations.

In some cases, online hearing aids are programmed from a quick hearing screening available through an app and headphones rather than in a calibrated, soundproof booth, without assessing any of the parameters that are crucial for hearing aid satisfaction.

We work with all leading manufacturers who have a proven track record of quality and reliability.

Who are Online Hearing Aids for?

Online hearing aids are a great option for people who aren’t able to come into the clinic and do not need ongoing support.

For example, if you have a mild hearing loss and want to explore what some basic amplification would be like and you feel the need is only “situational.” (Note: To keep your brain healthy, we recommend using your hearing aids full time in most cases.)

Treating Hearing Loss

In most situations, online hearing aids would not meet all of your needs. Some examples of these include:

  • If you want high fidelity hearing and to make sure you are hearing as best as you can
  • Have a tendency to build up a lot of earwax
  • You’re concerned about acoustic feedback
  • You have difficulty handling small objects
  • You have a more severe hearing loss
  • When things stop working, you often want a loved one to help

We asked one of our patients who has experience with hearing aids from us and online hearing aids. Her advice? “You get what you pay for!”

This is an ongoing relationship as we continually work with you to optimize your hearing when your listening needs and hearing change.

What Shall I Do Next?

If you’re concerned about your hearing, but you are struggling to differentiate which hearing device is best for you, then we’re here to help.

First and foremost, having a comprehensive hearing assessment with an audiologist is a great place to start.

We will talk through the different options and we’re happy to answer any questions.

Just give us a call at (650) 854-1980 (Menlo Park) or (650) 941-0664 (Los Altos).

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Deborah Clark, Au.D.

Dr. Deborah Clark has been with Pacific Hearing Service since 1998. In January 2008, she became co-owner working first in the Menlo Park office and now managing the Los Altos office. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology and is certified by the American Board of Audiology. She was on the board of the Hearing Loss Association of America, California State Association from 2010 – 2013, and served as Vice President.