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A Comprehensive Walkthrough of How to Treat Hearing Loss: A Breakdown of Your Seven Options

by | Sep 22, 2023 | Hearing Aids, Hearing Health, Hearing Loss, Patient Resources

Knowing whom to trust and which direction to take when it comes to dealing with your hearing concerns can be quite a challenge in today’s world.

There is no lack of information, a lot of options to explore, and an abundance of price points to consider. With so much to sort through, you could be feeling a bit overwhelmed.

In order to give you a hand sorting through your options, this article will give you a broad view of the available solutions and an honest overview of the benefits and drawbacks of each one.

Consider Your Needs First

Before exploring your options, it’s necessary to understand that because hearing loss is different for everyone, there are no “one-size-fits-all” solutions.

Consequently, your best treatment option must fit the needs of your unique diagnosis, specific circumstances, lifestyle, and budget. There are several questions you should ask yourself as you explore your options, such as:

  • What type and severity of hearing loss are you experiencing?
  • Are you living an active lifestyle?
  • In which environments are you active?
  • Is remote support or in-person care more important to you?
  • Are you looking for budget-priced or top-shelf solutions?
  • Would you prefer to work in partnership with a locally owned provider or with a corporation?

With your specific needs in mind, let’s take a closer look at what you’re getting for the investment you make into each class of treatment solutions for hearing loss.

#1 - Earphones and Cell Phone App

Investment: $0–$250


  • Inexpensive
  • Use technology you have


  • Do not address your specific hearing loss (amplifies everything)
  • No testing
  • Include little to no support or care

If you need a little help from amplification in certain environments, then you can use your wired or wireless earphones with a cell phone app to get some help.

This solution uses the microphone on your cell phone and its processing capabilities to pick up the sounds around you and amplify them.

Depending on the app and the level of subscription (starting at $60/year), you may be able to choose options that help control background noise, enhance speech, reduce own-voice amplification, and more.

This solution can be compared to using a magnifying glass for a vision problem; it helps but is not a true long-term hearing loss solution.

#2 - Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

Investment: $800–$2500


  • Competitive pricing
  • Easily accessible
  • Can be purchased from home


  • Not a custom solution
  • No hearing test
  • Self-fitted (can result in comfort issues)
  • No support
  • No damage/loss warranty
  • Address mild to moderate hearing loss only

Many people believe that prescription hearing aids and a ready-made hearing loss solution can be purchased over the counter.

In reality, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are only designed to address mild to moderate hearing loss and they encourage a self-prescribed solution without actually knowing the type and severity of the hearing challenges you’re addressing.

Many big consumer brands like Bose, Sony, and Jabra have entered the market with products ranging from $500–$1500.

OTC hearing aids are like OTC reading glasses. They help in certain situations but are not adequate to address more extensive hearing challenges.

#3 - Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs)

Investment: $79–$1250


  • Easily accessible
  • Budget priced


  • One-size-fits-all
  • No testing
  • Self-fitted (can result in comfort issues)
  • No support
  • Amplify all sounds equally

PSAPs provide amplification, and that’s just about it. They provide a one-size-fits-all solution for very mild hearing loss, but all sounds are amplified equally.

Your hearing won’t be tested, so they won’t provide a custom solution. They are also apt to be uncomfortable to wear, and you’ll have little to no support.

If we continue with the reading glasses comparison, PSAPs would be like OTC glasses from the cheaper end of the selection.

#4 - Direct-to-Consumer Hearing Aids With Remote

Audiological Support

Investment: $1850–$2400


  • Easy to purchase
  • Hearing test (online)
  • Technology from reputable manufacturers
  • Some remote audiological support
  • Money-back guarantee


  • Online hearing test may not be accurate
  • Nobody physically looks in your ears
  • No in-person support
  • Not covered by insurance
  • You speak to a different audiologist each time you call

The direct-to-consumer approach attracts a lot of people due to its convenience. There’s no doctor visit required, prices are reasonable, and the purchase process is easy and comfortable.

Common gain and sloping hearing losses are addressed by these devices, which usually work with a cell phone app that allows for minor adjustments by you or an online audiologist.

Your hearing aids will be preprogrammed in response to your online hearing assessment and are adjusted during follow-up remote support calls.

In our ongoing metaphor, this option is more like prescription glasses. Your hearing will be tested and you will get some support from an audiologist, but the testing accuracy is questionable.

#5 - Big-Box Retail Stores (Costco/Sam’s Club, etc.)

Investment: $1250–$4000


  • Hearing test
  • In-person fitting and support
  • Professional-level technology
  • Damage/loss warranty


  • Hearing test is not comprehensive
  • No ongoing personal service—you wait in line for support
  • Not covered by insurance
  • Requires you to be a member of the club

Hearing aids are available at most Costcos, Sam’s Clubs, and other big-box stores in their internal hearing aid centers. This is a step in the right direction toward customized hearing solutions that address your specific hearing challenges.

Before purchasing your hearing aids from a reputable manufacturer, Kirkland, you will have a professional, in-person hearing test. Your hearing aids will be professionally fitted by a trained hearing aid dispenser and they will come with a one- to three-year warranty.

Because follow-up care and support are in a retail environment, they can be a challenge. Testing and further exploration of hearing care solutions are limited with this option.

#6 - Partnering With a Local Audiological Clinic

Investment: $2500–$7500


  • Personal treatment and care from a doctor of audiology
  • Highest level of hearing aid technology
  • Personal, ongoing support focused on your hearing health rather than your device
  • Warranty
  • Maintenance and repair support
  • Insurance accepted


  • Requires physical appointments
  • Higher investment price

The beginning point for partnering with a local audiological clinic is a comprehensive hearing assessment, because a doctor of audiology will explore all the possible causes of your hearing loss and consider all treatment options rather than assuming that you need hearing aids.

In addition to a hearing screening, someone physically examines your ears for built-up earwax, foreign objects or debris, inflammation, or other obstructive issues that do not require hearing aids.

Your hearing exam provides data needed to program your hearing aids and design your hearing loss treatment.

Your hearing aids are fitted by a professional and you’ll get long-term, ongoing support like cleanings, readjustments, repairs, and access to a team of experts, with in-person appointments usually available within 48 hours.

Extended warranties and protection cover damage and loss, and your health insurance may provide some financial support.

Returning to the eyeglasses metaphor, this option is like receiving prescription glasses and the ongoing care provided by an optometrist.

#7 - Hearing Loss Surgery (Cochlear Implants)

Investment: $30,000–$50,000


  • Best option when hearing aids do not provide a solution
  • Innovative, advanced-level technology


  • Requires you to meet certain qualifications
  • Requires surgical procedure

This option is only available to qualifying individuals with profound hearing loss. Surgical implants help those who are not helped or receive only limited help from traditional hearing aids.

Before surgery, a doctor of audiology, a surgeon, and an anesthesiologist will confer in order to determine whether the surgery will achieve the desired results with little risk of negative side effects.

The cost of electronic implants involves surgeons, facilities, anesthesia, and device programming, which can add up to between $30,000 and $50,000. Fortunately, they are usually covered in full or in part by your health insurance.

What Should You Do Now?

Not all of the better hearing solutions available are designed to address your specific hearing challenges, and not all of your hearing challenges will be solved by hearing aids.

Before investing your money in any device, talk to a professional at Audiological Services who will make your hearing challenges their first priority, rather than assume that hearing technology is the best or only solution.

Click here if you’re ready for an objective evaluation of your hearing challenges by a hearing care professional, or give us a call at (936) 632-2252.

Start Your Journey To Better Hearing

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Leah Guempel Au.D., CCC-A

Dr. Leah Guempel received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Disorders in 2007 and her doctorate from the University of Texas in 2010. While in graduate school, Dr. Guempel was named outstanding first year graduate student in Audiology and Sertoma outstanding graduate student in Audiology. During graduate school, Dr. Guempel had several clinical rotations she completed throughout Austin including rotations at Dell Children’s Hospital and an ENT practice. Dr. Guempel also had a rotation at Cook Hearing & Balance as a student clinician, and after completing her 4th year rotation there, worked as a Doctor of Audiology in the Austin and Cedar Park locations. Dr. Guempel became the audiologist at the Cook Hearing & Balance office in San Marcos when it opened September of 2011. In December of 2012, Dr. Guempel bought Cook Hearing & Balance in San Marcos and renamed it Central Texas Hearing Center. She then opened the Central Texas Hearing Center in Lakeway, Texas. Most recently she purchased Audiological Services in Lufkin, TX. Dr. Guempel is licensed to practice Audiology in the State of Texas. She is a Fellow of the American Academy (AAA) and holds a certificate of clinical competence in Audiology from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). Dr. Guempel has a passion for hearing awareness. She enjoys her field of practice and hopes to inform and educate the community about the importance of early detection and the use of hearing protection. She is dedicated to helping those who suffer from hearing impairment. In her free time, Dr. Guempel enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and anything outdoors.