In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a proposal to allow certain hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription and without a hearing evaluation. The purpose of the bill was to increase access and lower the costs of getting hearing help. On August 16th, 2022, the FDA released their final language. Here’s everything you need to know.
Over-the-counter hearing aids can now be purchased directly from stores or online retailers without the need for an in-person hearing examination.
Who can buy OTC hearing aids?
- Those individuals who perceive they have a mild to moderate hearing loss. A hearing evaluation is not required.
- Those 18 years old or older.
- People with no medical contraindications in their ears or auditory system.
When You Shouldn’t Buy OTC Hearing Aids
While OTC hearing aids now will be more accessible and in some cases, cheaper, these are still not a viable solution for everyone. For instance, OTC hearing aids can be very risky for use in children because they may be self-programmed to be too loud, risking damage to the child’s remaining hearing, or too quiet, which can impact their spoken speech and language development, educational success, and social interactions with peers and family. They may also not include important safety features for pediatric use, such as a tamper-proof battery door. Children definitely need to get their hearing checked by an audiologist if they’re experiencing problems because hearing aids can highly improve their quality of life.
OTC hearing devices are not the right option for all adults either — they’re only suitable for minimal hearing loss in selective environments. Many people who pursue this option will only find temporary relief in certain situations.
If you think you’re experiencing hearing loss, the only way to obtain an adequate diagnosis for your symptoms is to take a hearing test conducted by a professional audiologist. Audiologists are highly skilled hearing health professionals who provide care for people of all ages. They can conduct thorough tests to determine the degree of your hearing loss, explain the results, and work with you to make a plan to help manage your hearing loss. They will be your biggest ally in your battle for better hearing.
The investment typically includes the initial fitting, follow-up appointments, fine-tuning, and cleaning costs. Hearing aids, as well as the support of a hearing healthcare professional, are available at multiple price points and most audiologists can help with advice on financial matters and payment plans.
If any of the following applies to you, please seek out a professional evaluation:
- You are younger than 18 years old.
- You hear better in one ear than the other.
- Your hearing changed suddenly.
- You have ringing, roaring, or noise in one or both ears.
- You have a history of taking medication that causes hearing loss.
- You have a history of chemotherapy and/ or radiation to the head or neck.
- You have active drainage from one or both of your ears.
- You have ear pain or discomfort.
- You have dizziness.
If you’re choosing OTC hearing aids
If you’re still thinking about getting OTC hearing aids, definitely ask your audiologist whether they have vetted hearing aids. They may have insights into which ones may be a better option, and whether you’re a candidate for OTC hearing aids. If you feel like OTC aids aren’t providing benefit or you are still struggling, see an audiologist. We are here to professionally test and evaluate your hearing and communication difficulties. It is our job to work with patients to find appropriate solutions to reduce listening fatigue, decrease communication issues, and enhance your quality of life. Also, if you just need help fitting or cleaning your OTC hearing aids, we’re here to help.
In our previous blog posts, we’ve looked at why you should get your hearing aids fitted by an experienced audiologist, as well as 10 tips to know before buying hearing aids. If you’re experiencing hearing loss, a hearing test is the only solution that can tell you what is happening to your hearing and what kind of treatment you need. Our office has a wide range of solutions with a wide range of prices.
If you’re experiencing hearing loss symptoms, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and schedule an appointment for a hearing test today!