So, you’re in the market for some new hearing aids! The great news is that since October 17, 2022, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids have become available at many pharmacies and major retailers, such as Walmart, Walgreens, and Best Buy. The convenience and availability of OTC hearing aids make it easier and more affordable (averaging $1,000 / pair) for all of us to take care of our hearing health. However, before picking out a pair, learn What you should know about OTC Hearing Aids and who should consider purchasing OTC hearing aids.
To find out if OTC hearing aids may be a fit for you, keep on reading.
First, OTC hearing aids are designed for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), mild hearing loss is when your hearing loss range is between 26 – 40 (dB HL) and 41 – 55 (dB HL) for moderate hearing loss. dB HL refers to your hearing loss measured in decibels (sound measurement). The American Academy of Audiology has made it easier for us to understand what all those numbers mean and to identify if you have mild to moderate hearing loss through their list of criteria:
- You have no trouble hearing easily in quiet one-on-one settings
- You’ve considered hearing aids during a few difficult listening situations but believe you probably won’t need them for every communication setting
- You turn up the volume on the television or phone to higher levels to help you hear better (others can hear the loudness, but it’s not enough to be distracting or bothersome)
Second, if you want to take control of your hearing health and don’t mind putting in the time to explore your hearing aid device, you’ll be happy to hear this next bit. Some consumer electronic companies, including Bose and Sony, have partnered with hearing health companies to help pair individuals with the right fit through paired apps that perform ear measurements and self-tuning.
Third, anyone experiencing any physical symptoms or pain should see a doctor or audiologist before considering OTC hearing aids as an option. ASHA advised that individuals with the medical conditions listed below must consult with a medical provider before purchasing OTC hearing aids:
- You have an ear deformity
- There is puss, blood, or other liquid being released from your ear
- Your tinnitus or hearing loss is considerably different from ear to ear
- You have pain or discomfort in your ear
- You have a history of excessive earwax or feel as though there is something inside your ear
- Your hearing loss fluctuates suddenly and dramatically
- You experience vertigo or severe dizziness
In addition, there are individuals with “complex” listening needs where anxiety and environmental noises play a part in their overall physical and cognitive health. These complex listening needs may not be connected to hearing loss, in which they should be evaluated to see if there is even a hearing issue at all.
Lastly, you must be at least 18 years old to purchase OTC hearing aids.
Please keep in mind that OTC hearing aids do not replace doctors, audiologists, or any other hearing health care professional. It is still highly recommended to get your hearing examined (annually) before purchasing a pair of hearing aids, over-the-counter or not.
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.