Hearing aids can be a costly investment, which is why over-the-counter hearing aids appeal to some people.
“I hope OTC hearing devices will make hearing help available to more people,” said Stuart Trembath, owner and audiologist at Hearing Associates. “We will be happy to help you get the most out of these basic devices and look forward to helping you improve your hearing.”
But there are drawbacks to consider before choosing that type of hearing technology.
FDA Regulations on OTC Hearing Aids
Because they’re considered medical devices, over-the-counter hearing aids are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA has proposed regulations to differentiate OTC hearing aids from prescription devices acquired through audiologists, hearing aid specialists and otolaryngologists.
That distinction allows consumers to buy OTC devices directly from stores or online without a hearing exam or fitting from a hearing health professional.
Federal regulations mandate that OTC devices are safe for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. The FDA requires those devices to include warnings that recommend you consult your primary physician or a healthcare professional before purchasing them.
What Are the Advantages?
Over-the-counter hearing aids are easily accessible in most drug stores. They’re designed to increase the volume of ambient sounds, so they’re similar to personal amplification devices. If you have mild hearing loss and only struggle to hear in certain environments, OTC hearing aids may be a viable solution for you.
Those hearing devices also cost less than prescription hearing aids, and you don’t need to visit a healthcare professional to buy them. You can also adjust the volume and other setting options if the device allows.
Downfall of OTC Hearing Devices
When you purchase over-the-counter hearing aids, your devices aren’t likely to include the latest innovations in hearing technology. OTC devices only amplify sound and can’t cancel background noises or adjust to new listening environments automatically.
Audiologists have extensive experience evaluating hearing loss, so they can prescribe hearing aids that suit your exact needs. They’ll schedule follow-up appointments to adjust your devices and ensure they fit comfortably.
Other advantages of purchasing your hearing aids from an audiologist include:
- Hearing evaluations to identify the cause of your hearing loss
- A variety of hearing aids in different sizes, styles and colors
- Technological advances, including directional mics and custom settings
- Bluetooth capabilities to connect to smartphones, computers, tablets and TVs
If you’re considering hearing aids, come to Hearing Associates. We offer comprehensive audiological services and an extensive inventory of hearing technology. Contact us online or call 888-760-2032 to schedule your appointment.