You might have noticed that Walmart stocks an extensive range of hearing aids and amplifiers. More importantly, they're at a much more accessible price compared to what you’d be paying at a hearing clinic.
When you think of hearing aids, Walmart doesn't necessarily spring to mind, but in fact they have their own hearing centers that can give you expert support for your hearing.
The truth is, Walmart hearing aids are high quality and can help you with your hearing. However, there are a few things that you should be aware of, all of which we’ll discuss in this article.
Are Walmart Hearing Aids Any Good?
Walmart hearing aids cover a wide range of devices, so one of them may well suit your needs and give you results that you’re happy with. Although it’s a great thing that hearing aids have been made accessible by this household name superstore, you will still have to do your research.
Whether Walmart hearing aids are generally good, however, is not an easy question to answer. This is because they sell a wide variety of hearing aids and hearing amplifiers that have been designed for different levels of hearing loss. Therefore, some simpler hearing amplifiers might be great for one person, but insufficient for another.
This is the case even if you get your hearing aid through your audiologist. This is because it's the type and extent of your hearing loss that determines the hearing aid that will work the best for you.
Also, just because Walmart hearing aids can be purchased online and in-store, people shouldn’t be encouraged to skip making appointments with their audiologist for in-depth hearing tests, check-ups, and treatment advice. Hearing loss is a health condition and should be treated as such — most importantly, with care and expertise.
It’s also important to understand that not all the devices listed on Walmart are hearing aids.
Many of them are PSAPs or hearing amplifiers (which are not suitable for those with hearing loss) and although they have their own specific section within the category of hearing aids, their visual similarity can be confusing if you’re not aware of the differences.
We wrote an article on the differences here to clear up any uncertainty, but essentially a hearing aid has more complex functions and is more expensive. A PSAP (like the Olive Smart Ear) is a simple amplifier that can help you hear in specific situations, like watching TV or having a conversation with a friend.
Walmart hearing aids and PSAPs have been labeled honestly so you can tell which is which. Another simple way to tell if a device is a hearing aid rather than an amplifier is to check if it's FDA-registered.
FDA-Approved Walmart Hearing Aids
Hearing aids must be FDA-registered as they are considered medical devices in need of regulation. The reason that hearing aids are so much more expensive is partially due to this increased level of vetting and the resultant ‘stamp of approval.’
Here are a few Walmart hearing aids that have been approved by the FDA:
- EarCentric EasyCharge Rechargeable Hearing Aid with charging base - $388.88
- Hearing Assist Rechargeable Hearing Aid for Both Ears, HA-302 - $498.88
- HearClear HCR3 Rechargeable Hearing Aid for Both Ears - $518.00
- Hearing Assist Bluetooth Rechargeable Hearing Aid for Both Ears, App-Enabled, HA 802 - $599.97
- RxEars RxI, In The Ear Hearing Aid - $499.00
- MDHearingAid AIR, Digital Hearing Aid with Noise Reduction - $399.98
- Vizara Hearing Aid System Premium Hearing Aid Device with Recharging Station - $1,542.46
- MDHearingAid PRO Hearing Aid - $399.99
- MDHearingAid VOLT Rechargeable Hearing Aid - $599.98
- Alpha 3 Hearing Aid, Smartphone Enabled Premium Hearing Device - $426.65
- RxEars Rx7 Hearing Aid Device, Bluetooth Adjustable Behind The Ear Hearing Aid - $699.00
Hearing Amplifiers (PSAPs) at Walmart
The FDA doesn’t consider sound Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs) or amplifiers to be medical devices ‘when labeled for recreational or other use by individuals with normal hearing.’ Nevertheless, the sound output levels of these products are still regulated.
Below are just a few sound amplifiers (not FDA-registered hearing aids) that you can find on Walmart.com:
- Olive Smart Ear, Premium noise-cancelling amplifier, $299
- Premium Digital Hearing Amplifier, Invisible in Canal (CIC) Personal Sound Hearing Amplifier - $89.99
- MSA 30X Sound Amplifier, Rechargeable and Lightweight - $19.88
- Bell & Howell MicroPlus Rechargeable Hearing Amplifier - $18.99
- Clearon Digital Hearing Amplifier Behind the Ear Design Small CL-702 - $69.80
- MiNi Digital Invisible Hearing Aid, CIC Small Sound Voice Amplifier - $37.99
- MEDca Digital Hearing Amplifier (Pair) Personal Hearing Enhancement Sound Amplifier - $39.99
- R&L Hearing Amplifier Rechargeable in the Ear to Aid and Assist Hearing of Adults and Seniors - $69.95
If you find it hard to tell the difference between hearing aids and PSAPs/amplifiers when browsing online, look out for the explicit use of the term ‘amplifier’ in the product title or description. Also, if a device is less than $100 it is highly likely that it is an amplifier, not a hearing aid.
Walmart tends to stock cheaper, lower quality sound amplifiers, but high-quality PSAPs are available elsewhere. The Olive Smart Ear is a CES Innovation Award-winning personalized hearing bud which you should consider if you don't have hearing loss but think a PSAP could benefit you.
Are Walmart Hearing Aids Smartphone Compatible?
Some Walmart hearing aids are smartphone compatible. For example, the Olive Smart Ear connects via Bluetooth to an App on your smartphone. Through the app you carry out a simple five-minute setup and customise the settings to your personal hearing profile, as well as changing modes to help you hear better in different scenarios.
For many, having a hearing aid or amplification device that connects to your smartphone is a bonus because you can easily and discreetly alter the settings depending on where you are, without having to manually change settings on the device itself. The Olive Smart Ear automatically cancels out background noise and highlights what you want to hear, whether that’s a conversation with friends or your favourite TV program.
It also has a portable charging case so you don’t have to worry about running out of battery throughout the day.
Are Over the Counter Hearing Aids Still Effective?
It’s important to note that products labeled as ‘over-the-counter’ (OTC) hearing aids are not currently available. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is busy establishing a new category of over-the-counter (OTC) wearable hearing devices to increase the accessibility of high-quality hearing aids for those with mild to moderate hearing loss.
These OTC devices are not yet on the market. If you are considering purchasing a device that claims to be in this new category, be aware that this legislation has not yet passed.
This is not to stop you from buying a Walmart hearing aid from the store's hearing center as they do sell legitimate, FDA-registered hearing aids (alongside low-cost amplifiers).
This being said, you do have a much greater chance of accidentally purchasing a device that is not suitable or tuned to your hearing needs when buying online or without the help of a qualified medical professional.
You should also think about whether it might be beneficial to purchase a hearing aid through your audiologist because of the extra services that they can provide. You might find it reassuring to know that the same professional who diagnosed your hearing loss has advised you on your hearing device, will be able to handle your future repairs, and can revise your treatment with you if your hearing further deteriorates.
For more hearing aid information and advice, see our other blog articles.
The information in this guide has been written using the following reliable sources: