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Direct-to-Consumer Hearing Aids

Hands holding blue-grey hearing aids

Source: Freepik

In 2018, 55% of hearing aids in the global market were generated from audiology and ENT clinics. The remaining hearing aids came from hospitals and pharmacies. 

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Now, more people are able to use hearing aids as the cost is now less of an inhibitor. 

What are consumer-direct hearing aids?

Manufacturers offer these hearing aids for purchase without the need for a consultation with an audiologist. You can typically find them sold online or in retail stores.

The FDA’s ruling ensured that direct-to-consumer hearing aids meet the same safety and quality standards as those from a clinic. As a result, individuals with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss can now confidently purchase a suitable device.

Types of direct-to-consumer hearing aids

The following hearing aids may be directly purchased by consumers: 

In-the-ear (ITE) devices

These fit completely in the ear and are suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss.

Behind-the-ear (BTE) devices

BTE devices are a good match for moderate to severe hearing loss. BTE devices provide more power. 

Receiver-in-canal (RIC) devices

As a combination of ITE and BTE, RIC devices function similarly to BTE devices but are hidden within the ear canal. 

Open-fit hearing aids

These fit behind the ear and use a tube that connects to an open dome placed in the ear canal. 

These device types may also have the latest hearing aid features, such as adaptive noise reduction and directional microphones. You can buy non-amplified sound n retail stores without a prescription. 

Benefits of getting hearing aids direct to you

Ever since their release, direct-to-consumer hearing aids have become increasingly popular. Here are some of the benefits they offer:

Low cost:

As DTC hearing aids are sold without the need for an audiologist or clinic visit, their prices can be much lower compared to those sold in clinics and hospitals. 

Accessibility:

With these devices available directly from manufacturers, people no longer need to make a trip to see an audiologist just to get a suitable device. 

Variety:

Consumers now have access to a wide variety of devices at different price points. Ultimatelty, this allows them more freedom when choosing what fits them best. 

Quality:

With the FDA’s regulations, DTC hearing aids are now just as safe and reliable as those sold in clinics.

You can also buy accessories, such as cleaning kits and spare parts, from different providers out there. You can choose from a wide range of options and find the one that suits your preferences. 

Disadvantages of direct-to-consumer hearing aids

Even though these devices offer some advantages, they do have a fair share of drawbacks, including:

The absence of professional advice:

Getting the right fit and settings for your device can be difficult without the help of an audiologist or hearing specialist. This difficulty can potentially result in ineffective use or even damage to the device itself.

Limited features:

Some DTC hearing aids may not come with all the latest features that more expensive models offer, as well as limited customization options. 

Warranty issues:

As these devices are often sold without any kind of warranty, you may be stuck paying out-of-pocket in case you find out that you need a different one.

Limited availability:

It can be hard to find the one for you online without trying them out first.

Do your research and make sure it fits your lifestyle and needs. Seek the advice of a professional for any questions you may have.

How much do direct-to-consumer hearing aids cost?

Consumer direct hearing aids can vary significantly in cost and typically base their pricing on the features they offer. In general, these devices offer more affordability compared to their clinic counterparts, with basic models ranging from $200 to $500, while more advanced ones can cost over $1,000.

Are direct-to-consumer hearing aids right for me? 

It is important to speak with a professional before making any decisions, even though direct-to-consumer hearing aids offer a great option for those who want an affordable device. Moreover, these devices deliver good-quality sound. They cost less and don’t require you to go to clinics.

Do both with Audicus, where you can have free virtual telehealth consultations and get a personalized recommendation on which DTC device is best for you. Contact us via call or email today to learn more and get started.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are direct-to-consumer and otc hearing aids different?

Yes, direct-to-consumer hearing aids are FDA-regulated and authorized for sale by a licensed audiologist. Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are not regulated by the FDA and can be purchased from any retailer without professional consultation.

Do you need a hearing test to buy direct-to-consumer hearing aids?

It’s important to get a hearing test from an audiologist to ensure that you receive the right device for your needs and level of hearing loss.

Are direct-to-consumer hearing aids FDA insured? 

Yes, such hearing aids are FDA regulated and insured. Hearing aids must meet certain standards of safety and efficacy.