Complete Online Hearing Aid Guide

Last updated: June 1, 2020
Section 1

The Basics

What are Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are small electronic devices worn in that ear that let people who have experienced hearing loss live their lives to the fullest. Today's hearing aids are not the same bulky, obtrusive devices you may remember from the past. Most hearing aids now are digital, discreet, and can be controlled by advanced technology like the Lively smartphone app.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, about 28.8 million adults in the U.S. would benefit from using a hearing aid. Unfortunately, the majority of those people don't actually use one.

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Suggested ReadingHow do hearing aids work?4 min

So, how do hearing aids work? No matter how modern, hearing aids still have three basic components:

  • a microphone
  • an amplifier
  • a speaker

All of which work together to amplify sounds so you can better hear them. The microphone's job is to receive sounds. The amplifier converts the sounds into electronic or digital signals, which are then amplified to meet your specific needs, and delivered to your ear through the speaker.
Learn more about how hearing aids work.

Suggested ReadingHow do hearing aids work?4 min

Recent Advances

The most substantial advances in hearing aids over the past decade is that they have become digitized—and as a result, more user-friendly, unobtrusive, and high quality.

One of the most meaningful advancements that digitization has allowed is the capacity for hearing aids to connect with smartphones via Bluetooth. This allows customers to adjust their hearing devices in real time, right from their phones. For example, if you are in a crowded environment such as a restaurant, you can change the setting on your hearing aid instantly to reduce background noise and focus on speech, using the Lively app.

Telehealth is another advancement that has broadened access to hearing aids and fueled the advancement of hearing aid technology.

Lively's audiologists guide every customer through the telehealth journey to make things as easy as possible.

Hearing aid customers are now able to connect with an audiologist or hearing specialist, just as they would in person, who can help them select the device that is that is the best fit for their lifestyle, teach them how to use it, and troubleshoot any questions along the way—all from the comfort of their own home.

Can a Hearing Aid Restore Hearing?

Hearing aids don't "cure" you of hearing loss or restore the full functioning of your auditory system. But while they can't improve your natural hearing deficit, properly fitted and used hearing aids won't damage your hearing further. And as it turns out, the research is conclusive: treating your hearing loss via hearing aids will give you a higher quality of life due to significant improvements to your mental health, relationships, and reduced risk of hearing-loss related comorbidities (that's a fancy word for the other things that go wrong when you can't hear the world around you).

How do Digital Hearing Aids Work?

There has been a major shift over the past decades from analog hearing aids to digital hearing aids. Unlike what you may remember from your parent's generation of hearing aids, these days most utilize digital technology. This increases the overall quality of the sound and function of the hearing aid and offers more user-friendly benefits for consumers.

Digital hearing aids work by converting the sound waves picked up by the device into numerical code.

Digital hearing aids work by converting the sound waves picked up by the device into numerical code.

This code includes important information about the sounds, such as pitch, volume, and sound direction. Depending on the environment and your general hearing needs, the small chip inside a digital hearing aid then uses that information and sophisticated algorithms to adjust the way that frequencies are amplified before they're sent to your inner ear.

Benefits of Hearing Aids

Hearing loss can impact so many aspects of your life, from your emotional well-being, to your relationships, work-life, and even your physical health. You might not realize the extent that hearing aids will improve the quality of your life until you try one and see how many aspects of your life are touched by being able to hear the world around you.

There are numerous benefits to using a hearing aid. The biggest one, of course, is being able to hear others more clearly—and not continually asking them to repeat themselves! You'll hear the television and other media as you used to, and your communication and engagement with friends, loved ones, and the rest of the world should dramatically improve.

Beyond these benefits, there are less obvious, but equally important, benefits offered by hearing devices. The field of audiology is constantly working to understand the intricate relationships between hearing, one of our primary senses, and the rest of our health. So far, there has been research that suggests that treating your hearing loss with a hearing aid can lead to:

  • Memory improvement
  • Decreased risk of slips and falls
  • Decreased risk of hospitalization
  • Mood improvement
  • Decrease in anxiety and depression
  • Increases in brain processing speed
  • Reduction in risk of dementia
  • Increasing in earning potential

In our opinion, an improvement in any one of the above would be well worth the effort of getting hearing aids.

Our hearing test takes 5 minutes
Section 2

Choosing a Hearing Aid

Common Types & Styles

Hearing aids come in many different of types and styles. Your audiologist can help you determine which type of hearing aid will work best for you based on the extent of your hearing loss, your age, how comfortable you are with new technology, and your budget.

Although it was once common to use hearing devices that use older, analog technology, today most hearing aids make use of state-of-the-art digital technology. Analog hearing aids simply amplify an existing sound, while digital hearing aids turn the sound into a digital signal that can be programmatically altered to fit different sound environments.

Hearing aid styles also vary. The most popular style is a behind-the-ear style, where the receiver is placed in the ear canal and the processing component is placed behind the ear.

Hearing aid styles also vary. The most popular style is a behind-the-ear style, where the receiver is placed in the ear canal and the processing component is placed behind the ear.

Other style options include in-the-ear hearing aids, where the entire hearing aid is placed in the outer ear; and canal aids, which are placed directly into the ear canal.

Bluetooth Hearing Aids

Suggested ReadingWhat are the Advantages of Bluetooth Hearing Aids?3 min

Bluetooth hearing aids are one of the most convenient developments in hearing space. Bluetooth hearing aids work exactly like any other Bluetooth device, where the device is "paired" with another device such as an iPhone or Android smartphone.

Bluetooth allows customers to adjust their hearing aid settings through their smartphone or other smart devices, usually through an app. Some Bluetooth hearing aids, like those that Lively offers, also allow customers to listen to cell phone calls or stream their favorite music or television shows directly to the hearing aid, which can increase the quality of sound as well as minimizing background noise and distractions.

Suggested ReadingWhat are the Advantages of Bluetooth Hearing Aids?3 min

Lively's hearing aids connect to your phone with Bluetooth, allowing you to adjust the settings through an app.

Which Hearing Devices are Best?

Suggested ReadingWhat are the Best Hearing Aids for 2020?4 min

There are no "best" hearing aids, but there are some that work best for you and your unique needs.

Suggested ReadingWhat are the Best Hearing Aids for 2020?4 min

Determining the best hearing aids for you depends on several factors, all of which determine which hearing aid will provide what you're looking for. Factors that many people consider include:

1. The Degree Of Hearing Loss You Have

People with mild to moderate hearing loss will be able to use a wider variety of hearing aids. People with severe hearing loss must use specially designed hearing aids for their unique hearing deficits.

2. Your Lifestyle

Do you want to go to an audiologist for an initial hearing test, and then for follow-ups several times a month? Are you comfortable using digital technology—such as a smartphone—to communicate with your audiologist and adjust your hearing aid? Is changing the batteries on your hearing aid going to be something you, or someone you trust, can do without too much difficulty?

3. Your Budget and Expected Value

What is your budget? What types of featuresare you looking for in your hearing device? Would you prefer an inclusive package that comes with unlimited customer service and several years of audiologist support? Are you willing to invest in a higher-end product if it will have the longevity and user-friendly features that improve your experience?

The balance of the above factors will help you decide which hearing aid is best for you. At Lively, we've spoken with thousands of people with hearing loss, and offer a bundle that has everything you need for better hearing and can be personalized to match exactly what you're looking for.

How does Lively Work?

Lively hearing aids are for people with mild to moderately severe hearing loss. They are a behind-the-ear model with a small, discreet speaker placed inside your ear canal. All the features, including volume and the selection of different settings that make it easier to hear in different environments, are operated through the Lively app on your smartphone, so you can make adjustments with the swipe of a finger. Our app also includes a convenient "find my hearing aid" feature, so you never need to worry about losing them around the house.

Once you determine that Lively is right for you and make your purchase, your hearing aids will arrive in three days or less, because Lively usually ships the same day they are purchased.

On the day of delivery, you'll receive a call from a trained customer service representative who will walk you through what is in your Lively shipment box. They will also give you one-on-one instruction on how to download the app and use it with your hearing aids.

After that, within the same week of delivery, we will schedule your first video call with your Lively audiologist, who will answer questions about how your hearing aids are performing, determine if any adjustments are needed, and will answer any further questions you have. Follow-up appointments with an audiologist are available 7 days a week for three years, included in the price of your purchase.

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Section 3

Shopping For Hearing Aids

Where to Find a Hearing Aid

Hearing aids are usually sold by health care professionals: audiologists or hearing aid dispensers. Although it isn't always necessary to visit the office of an audiologist or other hearing specialist, it's usually advised that you receive an audiologist-approved hearing test and consultation before purchasing. This way, you can be sure that your new device is addressing your particular hearing deficit.

These days, this can happen just as easily online as in person at a doctor's office—with Lively you can receive a hearing assessment in just five minutes.

Hearing Aids Near Me

Suggested ReadingHow Do I Find a Hearing Aid Near Me?4 min

Wondering how to find hearing aids near you? Never fear, there are several ways that you can purchase. The largest market for hearing aid purchases is actually "big box" stores like Costco. The problem with purchasing from these stores is, of course, that, while they offer technicians to help with fit, they don't always offer the assistance of specially trained audiology doctors. A doctor can help select the device that works best for your unique hearing loss needs and properly tune and adjust it for you.

Suggested ReadingHow Do I Find a Hearing Aid Near Me?4 min

Other options for purchasing hearing aids include doctor's offices, audiologists' offices, and hearing aid dispensers. Purchasing online from a company like Lively is a newer and increasingly popular option, and has many benefits, including reduced cost and the ability to connect with professional audiologists from the convenience of your own home.

Over the Counter Hearing Aids

Suggested ReadingThe Real Pros And Cons of Over The Counter Hearing Aids4 min

In 2017, a federal law was passed that allows the FDA to ease its rules regarding the purchase of hearing aids, paving the way for over the counter hearing aids to become more widely available to the general public.

In the past, hearing aids could only be dispensed by a licensed hearing care professional such as an audiologist. OTC devices do not have those requirements—no appointment with a hearing professional will be needed to purchase over the counter hearing aids.

Suggested ReadingThe Real Pros And Cons of Over The Counter Hearing Aids4 min

It's important to understand, however, that over the counter hearing aids are not for people with severe hearing loss. These devices require more intervention and monitoring from licensed healthcare professionals. Additional issues include the lack of access to an audiologist, lack of insight into hearing loss patterns, no adjustments after purchase, and problems with self-tuning.

Direct to consumer devices, however, are a more established option. These hearing aids, like those offered by Lively, are pre-tuned to enhance hearing frequencies—providing a great hearing experience even at a crowded restaurant or a concert. Unlike over the counter hearing aids, the settings are adjusted with help from experienced audiologists.

Additionally, you can also customize Lively hearing aids further, beyond the original settings, by downloading their easy-to-use app to control their settings to fit their surroundings. And should you run into any trouble, you can schedule a video call with your audiologist — something no OTC hearing aid offers.

Buying Online

Suggested ReadingWhy I Bought My Hearing Aids Online4 min

Buying hearing aids online is a great option for someone looking for a cost-effective option and who wants the convenience and ease of purchasing online. If you are looking to buy online, you should make certain that the retailer you're purchasing from is reputable, experienced, and has licensed professionals on staff.

Here are a few more key points to keep in mind when shopping for hearing aids:

Suggested ReadingWhy I Bought My Hearing Aids Online4 min
  • Teleaudiology Look for a company that provides teleaudiology and at least one year of free follow-up care with an audiologist — ideally two or three.
  • Top Features Ensure your device has the advanced technology and features that make today's hearing aids so exciting, like Bluetooth connectivity and an intuitive mobile app.
  • Includes batteries or rechargeable You'll want to purchase a hearing aid that comes with a one-year supply of batteries.
  • Warranty Make sure that the cost of your hearing aid includes peace of mind. That means checking to see if your purchase includes a multi-year manufacturer's warranty against defects.
  • Loss and damage protection Did you know that some companies offer three years of protection against loss and damage? Lively does — for every purchase.
  • Online hearing test So long as you don't have other complicating health conditions, hearing aids are safe for wearers and most can skip the doctor's office—so it can be convenient and cost effective to find a company that provides free online exams.

Lively's hearing test is easy to do online — and it only takes 5 minutes to get your results.

How Do You Know if Your Hearing Aid is Working?

Hearing aids take a little getting used to and it's very common to have questions as you adjust to living with your new devices.

If you're not sure if they are working correctly, consider the following:

  • It should feel comfortable Although it will take you a few days to get used to a new hearing aid, if you are experiencing discomfort while using it, you should speak to your audiologist for help with troubleshooting.
  • You should not be experiencing feedback If you are experiencing a high-pitched squeal or a whistling sound, you should check to see if your hearing aid settings can be changed to a different preset. If your hearing device doesn't offer an app, or changing the settings doesn't help, discuss the feedback with your audiologist, who can help you adjust your settings.
  • You should not be hearing excessive background noises No hearing aid can completely separate the sounds you are focused from other sounds in your environment. But most should offer options for adjustments based on your particular environment so you have the best hearing experience possible.

Hearing Aid Reviews

Suggested ReadingMaking Sense of Hearing Aid Reviews4 min

Whenever you purchase a new product, you want to hear what other customers are saying about their experience. As you look at various hearing aid reviews, there are a few factors to keep in mind:

Suggested ReadingMaking Sense of Hearing Aid Reviews4 min
  • Reputable Make sure the reviews are coming from real people, not third-party sites.
  • Take them with a grain of salt Reviews that sound "too good to be true" may be just that. For example, hearing aids take some getting used to, so reviews that say that the aid offered "perfect hearing right away" may be questionable.
  • Customer service It's vital to have good customer service when you are purchasing a hearing aid, as you will have questions from the beginning and throughout your experience. Reviews that mention great service and help from a licensed professional are worth noting.
  • Positive results Of course, you will want to make sure that the reviewers are hearing better! Hearing positive stories won't just help you feel confident in the hearing aids you are purchasing, but they will offer insight into how much better hearing can improve your everyday life.
Section 4

Paying For Hearing Aids

How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost?

Suggested ReadingHow Much Do Hearing Aids Cost and Why Are They So Expensive?4 min

The average cost of hearing aids varies greatly, but are commonly $2,300 per ear, while the highest priced hearing aids cost between $4,000-$6,000 per ear.

Suggested ReadingHow Much Do Hearing Aids Cost and Why Are They So Expensive?4 min

Most hearing aid pricing includes not only the hearing devices themselves, but the initial consultation, fittings, and follow-up help. Many hearing aids have warranties, although some only last one year. When buying, it's important to understand whether these additional services are included in the overall cost, or if you'll be paying for them separately.

Above all else, audiologists recommend making sure that you're buying a quality device. Your hearing aid is something you'll be wearing every day, so you want to make sure it works well with your lifestyle, feels comfortable, improves your quality of life, and endures for several years.

Why Are Hearing Aids So Expensive?

While the cost of hearing aids may at first sound high, when you consider the sophistication of the technology and the precision necessary for custom small-scale digital electronics, the associated costs start to make more sense.

There are a few reasons why high-quality devices are sometimes more expensive than customers initially expect. The first is that the clinics have high costs—overhead that includes staff and facility costs—and those costs get passed along to the consumer.

Another reason hearing aids are sometimes more expensive than you might expect is that they are often sold in small volumes. For example, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, roughly 1.7 million hearing aids are manufactured annually—in stark contrast to the hundreds of millions of smartphones that are manufactured each year. Because of these smaller numbers, each consumer needs to pay for more of the R&D, overhead, and additional operating expenses. Additionally, each clinic sells to relatively few new patients — about twenty per month. This means that they have limited ability to negotiate large purchase discounts with manufacturers.

This, however, is what makes Lively so exciting—because Lively sells hearing aids online directly to those with hearing loss, overhead costs are kept low. With Lively, you'll get a pair of high-quality hearing devices, with the functions you need, at a fraction of the cost of most comparable technology.

Are Hearing Aids Covered by Insurance/Medicaid/FSA?

Suggested ReadingAre Hearing Aids Covered by Insurance, Medicaid, or FSAs?4 min

Unfortunately, most of the time, hearing aids are not covered by insurance, although some insurance companies will cover a portion or percentage of the cost. If your insurance is provided by Medicaid, your child under the age of 21 will have the cost of hearing aids fully covered. Medicare, however, doesn't cover the cost of hearing devices themselves but will cover the cost of a hearing evaluation if it's been ordered by a physician. Even in the unlikely event that your insurance does cover hearing aids, there are often unfortunate restrictions that limit the kinds available to you. Many find that they are not able to find the features or functions they require. Additionally, insurance is not accepted by most direct-to-consumer companies like Lively (although many find that paying Lively's prices is much better than paying the bill their insurance company may stick them with.)

Suggested ReadingAre Hearing Aids Covered by Insurance, Medicaid, or FSAs?4 min

You may, additionally, be able to use your flexible spending account (FSA) to cover some of the costs. You should always check with your individual plan to discuss coverage options for hearing aid insurance.

How Much Does Lively Cost?

The price of a pair Lively hearing aids starts at $1,850 — for both ears together. You can pay at once, or choose a convenient and flexible payment plan for as little as $78 per month, depending on your plan. When you buy from Lively, you aren't just getting a hearing aid. Instead, your package includes:

  • Initial fitting and consultation
  • Three years of follow-up with an audiologist
  • Mobile app that allows you to change your settings on the fly
  • Three year warranty
  • Three year loss and damage protection

Besides using your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) for the purchase, or considering a payment plan, you do have several options for making the cost work for your budget. Buying online is a great option, as many retailers such as Lively offer hearing aids for significantly less than you would pay at a traditional office.

Ready to Get Started?

Let's get started with a few questions from our team of doctors and technologists to see if Lively is right for you.

You can take our comprehensive hearing test in the comfort of your home in only 5 minutes.

Section 5

Learn about Lively

About Lively

Lively is on a mission to democratize, simplify and de-stigmatize the adoption and use of technically advanced hearing aids, so that more people with hearing loss can live their lives to the fullest.
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We offer powerful, nearly-invisible hearing aids and at-home audiologist care, all for 50% less than the national average. Lively devices can be purchased from your home, making initial consultation, set-up, and follow-up appointments a snap.

To put it simply: Lively is one of the most convenient and budget-friendly ways to purchase hearing aids. Here's what you get when you decide to buy from Lively:

  • A pair of professionally programmed hearing aids
  • Ongoing, 7-day-a-week support
  • 100-day money-back guarantee
  • Three-year warranty
  • An app that makes it easy to choose different presets based on your environment
  • The ability to stream music or phone calls from your phone
Am I a Candidate?

How to Get Started

Once you have decided you are interested in learning more about Lively, it's time to get started!

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Your first step will be to either upload a hearing test from your doctor or take a free online hearing assessment. The Lively online hearing tests takes approximately five minutes and, after you finish the test, you'll receive a prompt follow-up call if the audiologist reviewing your test results has any questions.

You are a good candidate for Lively if your tests show that you have mild to moderately severe hearing loss. If it's determined that you are a good candidate, but you are unsure if you are ready to purchase from Lively, you can easily contact us to discuss your options and concerns. During a consultation, you can discuss your experience of hearing loss, including what hearing difficulties you are having, how bothersome your hearing loss is, and how hearing loss is impacting your quality of life, so that you can make an informed decision about your purchase.

What Lively's Customers are Saying

Lively customers are enthusiastic about the products as well as their experience — here's what they have to say!

Great Audiologist

My Audiologist is fantastic. Very helpful and knowledgeable. Got me set up and answered all my questions. Prompt, on time for the video meeting. Made some adjustments. Impressed how smooth everything went.

Steve, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Hearing new things

They are terrific. They fit well. I use the app on my Samsung phone to adjust when necessary. I have had 2 online meetings with my Lively audiologist to have all my questions answered. I cannot imagine a better way to buy a hearing aid.

Richard, Long Beach, IN

Lively in the News

Lively has been featured several times in the New York Post, including an exciting giveaway offered in October 2019 in partnership with the Post that provided three lucky recipients with Lively hearing aids.

Lively has also been featured in Forbes, Business Wire, and RetirementLiving.

Ready to Get Started?

Let's get started with a few questions from our team of doctors and technologists to see if Lively is right for you.

You can take our comprehensive hearing test in the comfort of your home in only 5 minutes.