The time has finally come where the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the selling of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. They have been designed for individuals over the age of 18 who suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss. They are significantly lower in cost (by the thousands) than prescription hearing aids. In fact, since October 17, 2022, the FDA has ruled that you do not need a prescription, medical examination, nor professional fitting to get your OTC hearing aids and retailers across The United States have begun selling them. Individuals are now able to purchase them online or pop into the nearby pharmacy to grab affordable hearing aids.
The type of OTC hearing aids that are available to the public are the air-conduction hearing aids, your more traditional hearing aids – removable and non-surgically implanted devices. The OTC air-conduction hearing aids come in two styles – fit in the ear canal and sit behind the ear. Each kind amplifies sound output into the ear canal. Air-conduction hearing aids are typically purchased from and delivered to an audiologist after visiting an audiology clinic and having your hearing examined.
Now, if you are looking to purchase OTC hearing aids, keep in mind that they do come with certain limitations and that hearing loss varies from person to person. With that being said, here are some things to consider before purchasing them.
OTC hearing aids:
- are not fitted for every ear
- cannot treat all types of hearing loss
- designed for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss
- cannot treat hearing-related medical conditions
- for example:
- chronic infections
- Individuals who are candidates for surgical correction
- for example:
- are not personal sound amplification products (PSAPs)
- are not made for children
They can cost around $600-$1,000 a pair and save individuals up to $3,000 in hearing exam costs. However, they aren’t always the right choice. They do not replace professional advice. It is always better to shop around before deciding on a pair. It is still advised to go to a hearing specialist to check your hearing. Regular screenings can help prevent further hearing damage. A hearing healthcare professional can diagnose any infections or detect if there is a benign growth that may be obstructing your hearing. Not to mention, when purchasing hearing aids from a hearing specialist, you get a trial period to see if they are a fit for you, unlike OTC hearing aids.
Whatever you decide, please be aware of the pros and cons to OTC hearing hearing aids and remember, they do not replace the medical care you may need when it comes to your hearing health.
AudioCardio is an evidence-based mobile app that delivers inaudible sound therapies designed to maintain and strengthen your hearing while providing relief from tinnitus by stimulating the cells inside your ear.
National Council on Aging
September 29, 2022