Are you or a loved one trying to find solutions to your hearing challenges?

If you are, then you might have discovered that finding answers is frustrating, and it’s hard to figure out whom to trust and what steps to take.

Every website you pull up will offer a different opinion about what to do and a ton of options to consider at various price points; it’s enough to make you feel like you’re drowning in information.

With this post, we want to help you explore the various options available, give you a broader view of the hearing solutions landscape, and share an honest overview of the benefits and pitfalls each option offers.

5 Things to Consider Before Looking at Your Options

There are no truly “one-size-fits-all” solutions for addressing hearing loss. The correct approach is as unique from one individual to another as their fingerprints.

To know the best solution for treatment, you have to identify the specific challenges you’re facing as well as take into account your unique circumstances, lifestyle, and budget. Ask yourself the following five questions before looking at your hearing loss treatment options:

  1. What is your specific type and severity of hearing loss?
  2. What is the activity level of your lifestyle and the environments you’re usually in?
  3. Is in-person support important to you or are you okay with remote support?
  4. Are you okay with paying more for the best option or are you shopping for budget-priced solutions?
  5. Do you want a locally owned partner interested in your hearing health or are you okay talking to different people and dealing with a corporation?

Now that you understand what you really want, you can take a closer look at your options and make the choice that is the right fit for you.

Your options come at a variety of price points, but what are you getting for the investment you make?

Let’s compare the following seven hearing loss treatment solutions.

Option 1: Earbuds and Cell Phone App—Price: $0-$250

If you have little or no budget to play with and need some form of amplification in certain environments, then with your cell phone and the right app, you can turn your wired or wireless earphones into amplification tools.

Your cell phone’s microphone will pick up the sounds around you and then use the app to amplify them. Most offer a few free features, but for assistance to control background noise, enhance speech, reduce own-voice amplification, and other advanced features you will have to pay an annual subscription, which will cost around $60.


  • Inexpensive
  • Uses technology you already have


  • Requires good-quality earbuds or earphones
  • Does not address your specific hearing loss (amplifies everything)
  • Does not include personal support or care

This is similar to using a magnifying glass for your vision problem; it addresses certain circumstances, but it doesn’t address the core issue.

Option 2: Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids—Price: $800-$2500

Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids were made available by the FDA in October of 2022, but the regulatory body failed to define until later what classes of hearing aids were included. Consequently, many people have the mistaken belief that they can buy a ready-made solution to their hearing challenges over the counter.

The biggest drawback to OTC hearing aids is that people tend to self-prescribe a solution to their hearing challenges without actually knowing the type and severity of hearing loss they are hoping to address.

A hearing test performed by a licensed professional is the only way to know the specific type and severity of your hearing loss in order to provide a targeted solution.

Many big consumer brand names like Bose, Sony, and Jabra have entered the OTC hearing aid market, with products ranging from $500 to $1500.


  • Competitive pricing
  • Easily accessible
  • Purchased from home


  • Not tailored to your hearing loss
  • Requires no hearing test
  • You have to fit them yourself (can lead to a lot of discomfort)
  • No personal support
  • No damage/loss warranty
  • Only work with mild to moderate hearing loss

Continuing with the comparison to your vision, OTC hearing aids are like non-prescription reading glasses. They help in very specific situations, but cannot address more extensive challenges and are a generic option that isn’t unique to you.

Option 3: PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplification Products)—Price: $79-$1250

PSAPs are amplification tools that involve the use of a microphone and amplification to increase the volume of sounds and speech in your ears.

Prices for PSAPs start at around $80 but can also exceed $1000. They are a one-size-fits-all solution (in theory) for very mild hearing loss, so there is little room for adjustments  and all sounds are amplified equally.


  • Easy access
  • Low price


  • One-size-fits-all
  • No testing required
  • You have to fit them yourself (can lead to a lot of discomfort)
  • No support
  • Amplifyies all sounds equally

These are also like non-prescription reading glasses, but at the cheaper end of the available options. They amplify all sounds, so they offer very little help in environments with a lot of background noise.

Option 4: Online, Direct-to-Consumer Hearing Aids With Remote Audiological Support—Price: $1850-$2400

What draws consumers to these devices is the convenience of avoiding a visit to a doctor, reasonable pricing, and an easy and comfortable process for obtaining them.

Your hearing aids come preprogrammed based on your online hearing assessment and using common gain and slope hearing loss targets. They are adjusted using a cell phone app or during follow-up remote support calls.

Because they are convenient, they have gained popularity.


  • Easy to purchase
  • Convenient
  • Technology from reputable manufacturers
  • Some remote audiological support
  • Money-back guarantee


  • Online hearing assessments are often inaccurate
  • No physical examination of your ears to look for other hearing loss causes
  • No in-person support
  • Insurance will not help pay for them
  • You usually speak to a different audiologist each time

With this option, you do have some of your specific hearing needs addressed by an audiologist, but without accurate testing or a physical examination of your ears, there is not enough information to truly target your hearing needs.

Option 5: Big-Box Retail Stores (Costco/Sam’s Club, etc.)—Price: $1250-$4000

Professional hearing aids can be obtained at your local Costco or Sam’s Club, which has an internal hearing aid center. With this option you are getting more professional hearing aid technology customized to address your unique hearing challenges.

Before purchasing your hearing aids, you will have a hearing exam. These hearing aid centers offer devices from a reputable manufacturer, Kirkland, and the devices will be professionally fitted by a trained hearing aid dispenser.

Because your follow-up care and support are located in a retail environment, the level of support may be limited, especially if you’re dealing with warranty issues.


  • You get a hearing test
  • In-person fitting and support
  • Professional-level technology
  • Repair and loss warranty


  • The hearing exam is not comprehensive
  • Not a lot of ongoing personal service
  • You wait in line for support
  • Your insurance will not provide assistance
  • You will have to be a member of the retail club

This solution is a significant step in the right direction, but when it comes to truly addressing your overall hearing health, it comes up short as well.

Option 6: Partnering With a Local Audiological Clinic—Price: $2500-$7500

The traditional approach to hearing care involves a comprehensive hearing assessment designed to evaluate your overall hearing health, conducted by a licensed audiologist. One major difference to this solution is that your audiologist will provide an objective evaluation of your overall hearing health rather than assume that you need a hearing aid.

During a comprehensive hearing assessment, your audiologist physically examines your ears to determine whether they’re blocked by earwax, a foreign object, inflammation, or another obstruction that can be corrected without hearing aids.

Your hearing evaluation will produce the specific information necessary to address your unique hearing challenges and your audiologist will offer you a broader range of viable and proven treatment options.

You will be able to choose from a variety of devices from some of the top manufacturers in the industry and have them professionally fitted, and you will receive long-term ongoing support and care, like cleanings, readjustments and repairs, and access to a team of experts via in-person appointments that are typically available within 48 hours.

Extended warranties and protection cover repairs, damage, and loss, and insurance may provide support or you can use our payment plans.


  • Personal treatment and care from a doctor of audiology
  • Best hearing aid technology
  • Personal, ongoing support focused on your hearing health rather than your device
  • Warranties cover repair, replacement, and loss
  • Access to maintenance and repairs
  • Insurance accepted


  • You will have to attend physical appointments
  • You will have to invest a little more money than some of the other options

Returning to the eyeglasses comparison, this option is similar to going to an optometrist for prescription glasses that address the specific challenges with your vision.

Option 7: Hearing Loss Surgery (Cochlear Implants)—Price: $30,000-$50,000

If you qualify for this option, it is because you have profound hearing loss that is not properly addressed by hearing aids.

Surgical implants require an evaluation involving a doctor of audiology, surgeon, and anesthesiologist to determine whether the surgery will produce the desired outcomes.

Though much of the costs will probably be covered by your health insurance, electronic implants involve surgeons, facilities, anesthesia, and device programming by an audiologist, which can add up to between $30,000 and $50,000.

Your Next Step

In the same way that a magnifying glass, a pair of over-the-counter reading glasses, and prescription glasses meet different needs, so do the various treatment options that address hearing challenges.

However, trying to correct hearing loss with hearing aids when you don’t really need them or with an inadequate or improperly programmed device is a waste of your hard-earned money and could do more harm than good.

For treatment solutions designed to address your unique hearing loss, your best option is to talk to a hearing care professional at Fox Valley ENT, whose first priority is your hearing health, not another hearing aid sale.

If you or your loved one is ready for an objective evaluation of your hearing challenges, submit the adjacent “Request a Callback” form and a member of our team will call you back to address your questions and/or concerns

You can also give us a call at the northern Illinois location near you.

Schedule a Hearing Assessment

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Joseph, T Pacer

Joe Pacer has been an Audiologist with Fox Valley Ear, Nose & Throat Associates since 1988. He received his Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders from Northern Illinois University in 1986 where he continued and received his Master of Arts in Audiology in 1988. He is a member of the American Academy of Audiology. Joe works closely with his patients and has extensive experience performing hearing evaluation as well as recommending, fitting and trouble shooting hearing aids.