Understanding Your Hearing Care Options: An In-Depth Guide by South Sound Audiology

At South Sound Audiology, our priority is to guide you toward what's best for YOU

The journey to improved hearing isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience. It’s individualized and unique, and there are multiple options available to fit everyone’s needs. Trusted by hundreds of local people since 2007, South Sound Audiology is dedicated to offering the most caring, trustworthy, and experienced audiological care in Lacey, WA. 

But before you make a decision, it’s crucial to understand the different routes available. In this guide, we’ll help you explore and understand these options so you can make an informed choice for your hearing health. 

#1—Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids

In recent years, there’s been an increase in hearing aids available directly to consumers without a prescription or consultation. The FDA has set guidelines, but these devices often miss the mark in personalized care. 


  • Easily accessible and can be purchased online or in stores 
  • Tend to be more affordable 


  • One-size-fits-all approach with limited customization 
  • Lack the fine-tuning a hearing professional can provide 
  • No professional assessment means potential underlying issues might be overlooked 
  • Durability and effectiveness can be questionable 


An amalgamation of hearing aids and earbuds, these are typically for those without significant hearing loss who might need occasional amplification. 


  • Offer tech-savvy features like Bluetooth connectivity 
  • Discreet, often resembling regular earbuds 


  • Not tailored for severe or even moderate hearing loss 
  • Don’t replace the need for genuine hearing aids 
  • Limited battery life 

#3—PSAPs (Personal Sound Amplification Products)

Often found online or in major retail stores, PSAPs amplify ambient noise. They might seem like a quick fix, but they are far from a personalized solution. 


  • Affordable and easy to procure 
  • A solution for those with very mild hearing issues 


  • Amplification isn’t tailored to individual hearing loss 
  • No professional assessment; underlying issues can be missed 
  • One-size-fits-all approach often leads to discomfort and ineffective results 
  • Limited or no customer support post purchase 

#4—Online Hearing Aids With Audiological Remote Support/Direct-to-Consumer

You’ve likely encountered online ads for companies offering remote hearing aid services. These online platforms often provide mixed experiences. 


  • Convenient and don’t require in-person consultations 
  • Some reputable manufacturers back the technology 
  • Money-back guarantees are common 


  • Hearing tests done online can be less accurate 
  • Lack in-person support and care 
  • Potential discrepancies with insurance benefits 
  • Lack of consistent professional contact can impede relationship building and trust 

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

These retail giants often house internal hearing aid centers, making them a convenient option for many. 


  • In-store hearing screenings are conducted 
  • Professional fitting is typically provided 
  • Access to a range of technologies and brands, including store-branded options 
  • Warranty periods can be generous 


  • Screenings may not be as comprehensive as those at specialized clinics 
  • Limited ongoing service and support 
  • Potentially lengthy wait times for follow-up care 
  • Insurance benefits might not be applicable 
  • Payment plans might be lacking 
  • Membership fees might be required 

#6—Working With a Local Clinic (Like South Sound Audiology)

This traditional approach is rooted in personalization and comprehensive care. 


  • Comprehensive hearing assessment that goes beyond mere hearing levels, focusing on overall hearing health 
  • Access to cutting-edge technology without constraints 
  • Personalized fittings ensure comfort and effectiveness 
  • Continuous support including cleanings, adjustments, and repairs 
  • Insurance and payment plans can be integrated into the care plan 
  • Focus is on individual care rather than a high volume of patients 
  • Supports local businesses and get a more personal touch in your care 


  • Multiple visits may be required, but these ensure your hearing aids are optimized for your needs 

#7—Hearing Loss Surgery (Cochlear Implants)

For those with profound hearing loss, cochlear implants might be the solution. These implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. 


  • Can provide a solution for those who don’t benefit from traditional hearing aids 
  • Might be partially or fully covered by insurance 


  • Requires surgery and the associated risks 
  • Cost can be prohibitive, with average prices ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 
  • Specific criteria need to be met for candidacy 
  • Associated costs include surgeon’s fee, facility costs, and post-operative programming 

Making Your Decision 

Understanding your options is the first step to better hearing. Everyone’s journey is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. At South Sound Audiology, our priority is to guide you toward what’s best for YOU. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure about the next steps, we’re here to help. By connecting with one of our experienced audiologists, you’ll gain insights tailored to your situation. 

Call us at 360-464-9780. We’re not just here to sell you a product; we’re here to help you hear better and improve your quality of life. 

Better Hearing

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Julie VanAusdal

Since 2006, Ms. VanAusdal has operated South Sound Audiology, applying 20 years of education, experience, and expertise to provide hearing solutions to pediatric and adult patients in the greater Olympia community. She is passionate about restoring the relationships and opportunities her patients lost because of hearing challenges. Her greatest motivation is seeing her patients enjoy a more active, rewarding, and independent lifestyle due to better hearing. Her commitment to our community shines through in her patient-centered approach to her audiology practice.

    Request a Callback

    Don’t want to wait? Call us
    at: 360-464-9780

    • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.