Walmart Hearing Aids
Walmart offers shoppers the convenience of purchasing almost everything you could ever need under one roof and often at a great price. You can even purchase a hearing aid from the same store where you may purchase your weekly groceries.
While this may seem like a good thing because it sounds convenient and cheap, the result may not be what you anticipate. Consider the following before buying a hearing aid from Walmart or another big box store.
Most Big Box Stores Do Not Employ An Audiologist
An audiologist evaluates your hearing loss, discusses your hearing goals and your budget, and then provides a suggestion on the best hearing aid for your specific situation. They will also ensure the hearing aid fits properly and help you learn to use it providing you the most optimum hearing experience. Since Walmart and other big box stores don’t have an audiologist on site, they don’t offer these services and you are on your own to decide what to purchase. You may find that what you select is not a good fit for you and does not provide the level of sound amplification you need.
An Audiologist Might Be Cheaper
Depending on the type of insurance you have, all or some of the cost of a hearing aid may be covered. In addition, the expertise of an audiologist will probably save you money in the long run.
Hearing Aids Versus Amplifiers
Prior to making a purchase, check to make sure you are buying a real hearing aid that is FDA approved and is sufficient for your hearing needs. Walmart sells amplifiers as well as hearing aids. Amplifiers just increase the volume of every noise that you hear.
Are Walmart Hearing Aids Real Hearing Aids?
If you search the term “hearing aids” on Walmart’s website, you will find a wide range of devices from which to choose. Some of those choices will be real, FDA-registered hearing aids and others will be sound amplifiers. The sound amplifiers can be found for as little as $40 while the higher end hearing aids are sold at a higher price point. The key is to not make a decision based solely on price, but to understand the difference between legitimate hearing aids and knock-off amplifying devices.
Hearing Aids vs. Sound Amplifiers
It is important to mention that there is a huge difference between a sound amplifier and a hearing aid. A sound amplifier only makes things louder. Regardless of frequency, direction, volume, or anything else, a sound amplifier makes everything it picks up louder in your ear. A hearing aid, on the other hand, performs a complex purpose that depends on the needs of the wearer. A sound amplifier may or may not improve your hearing, but a hearing aid chosen by a good audiologist will.
FDA-Registered Hearing Aids
The FDA is the government agency that regulates consumer products such as food, medications, vaccines, and all medical devices. Since a hearing aid is a medical device, it must be FDA approved so that the consumer knows it has been tested for efficacy, safety, and security. Sound amplifiers, on the other hand, do not need to be FDA-approved or registered. The two easiest ways to tell if a device being sold at Walmart is FDA-registered is as follows:
- An FDA-registered tag. Walmart does a good job of labeling their devices honestly making it easier to tell if the hearing device is FDA approved or not.
- Price. If the price of the device is less than $150, it is likely not a FDA-registered hearing aid.
Walmart Best Selling Hearing Aids
Many of the hearing aids being sold at Walmart and walmart.com are FDA-registered devices. While finding a local audiologist to assist you through the process and help you choose the best hearing aid for your hearing needs is still recommended, we understand that not everyone will follow that advice. The following is a list of some of Walmart’s best selling hearing aids along with a description of each. These devices also have user reviews associated with them that you should read prior to purchasing.
Hearing Assist Rechargeable Behind-The-Ear (BTE)
The Hearing Assist Rechargeable BTE hearing aid is advised for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. The design is simple and has a volume dial and one button that turns the device on and off and switches through different sound settings (noisy/quiet, indoor, tv, etc.). When you purchase this Hearing Assist product, you get two devices with features that include a rechargeable battery (20 hours on a full charge), digital hearing aid technology, feedback reduction, and four sound environment settings.
Hearing Assist HA-1800
The Hearing Assist HA-1800 is a Completely-In-Canal (CIC) hearing aid that is virtually invisible from every angle and is ideal for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. It is also a great choice for people who wear glasses. It features an “EarTap” function that allows you to access the four different volume levels by simply tapping your ear. You get two hearing aids, 16 batteries that last about 70 hours each, two cleaning devices, and two carrying cases. The features include four sound settings (including a tinnitus setting), background noise reduction, and eight-channel digital sound processing.
MD Hearing Aid Air and Volt
The MD Air is a BTE style hearing aid that is suggested for people with mild to moderately severe hearing loss. This device is designed to help resolve 94% of hearing loss conditions. The MD Air is one of the smaller BTE hearing aids out there, and while it is not rechargeable, the batteries are easy to change and last a long time. With a MD Hearing Aid Air package, you get two hearing aids and long term customer support. Some of the features include noise reduction technology, feedback reduction, four sound environment settings, and digital hearing aid technology.
With the Volt, you get many of the same features as the Air but with a rechargeable battery, two directional microphones, and even greater noise reduction.
Are Walmart Hearing Aids Any Good?
Walmart has some hearing aids that are FDA-registered and excellent quality. They also have some that are not high quality. If you are going to purchase a hearing aid from Walmart, first review these pros and cons that may be helpful in guiding your decision making.
- Multiple options from which to choose.
- They carry some high quality devices at good prices.
- Good brand names.
- Easy to tell if the hearing aid is FDA-registered or a sound amplifier.
- Shopping at Walmart is convenient for the majority of Americans.
- No audiologist available to assist you in evaluating which hearing aid would be best for appropriately improving your hearing.
- You are on your own making a very big decision.
- Lack of follow up and after care.
- Walmart sells some very low-quality devices so you may select something that doesn’t provide the hearing assistance you need.
- If you have questions, they will be directed at an untrained employee.
- You may or may not purchase the right hearing aid for your particular situation.
- The hearing aid you purchase may not have features that you want or need.
Shopping at Walmart is convenient and you can usually find a great deal, even for hearing aids, but you will be missing out on the valuable and helpful expertise of an audiologist. You may get a hearing aid that will help with your hearing loss to an extent, but the chances that you get the right one for your circumstances are low.
Do Cheap Hearing Aids Work?
Millions of Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss, and, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 28.8 million Americans could benefit from using hearing aids. Many people never even consider hearing aids and others are deterred by what they see as too great of a cost. So, the question has to be asked, do cheap hearing aids work?
The simple answer is “no.” Cheap hearing aids do not work because almost anything you can find for less than $150 is nothing more than an amplifier. They usually cannot separate voices, modulate volume well, and they do not offer directional microphones. The only thing most “cheap” hearing devices do is make everything a little bit louder.
What we would suggest, again, is to find a local audiologist and let them walk you through the process of finding and purchasing the right hearing aid. At the very least, your insurance will probably offset the cost of a visit to a specialist, and may even offset or pay for the hearing aids as well. Regardless, an audiologist will help you find the right hearing aid for you based on your hearing loss, desired aesthetics, features, and finances. Your hearing affects so much of your life, taking the time and spending the money to do it right only makes sense.
Walmart Hearing Aids: Do More Expensive Hearing Aids Work Better?
The cost of a hearing aid, like almost anything else you purchase, generally speaks to the features, the technology, and the effectiveness of the product. The old adage “you pay for what you get” is true in almost all avenues of life. So, yes, as a general rule, more expensive hearing aids do work better. But that is not the only answer to the question.
Even more important than the amount you will spend on the hearing aid itself is the process that you should go through to find the right hearing aid. The first step is to be checked out by a local audiologist who can tell you if you really need a hearing aid and the degree of your hearing loss. They will go over features and technology and help you pick out the right product for your particular situation. They will fit you with the right style and the right size product. Audiologists also offer after care and assist you as you get used to all the things your new hearing aid can do. They will discuss warranties with you and help you understand that the cost of hearing aids is an ongoing expense as many of them do not last more than five years.
You could go to Walmart and find the cheapest hearing device on the shelf, and it may slightly help your hearing. However, taking the time and expense to find the right person to lead you to the right product is really the only way your hearing will improve as dramatically as possible, and it will help you hear as well as possible for the rest of your life.