4 Things to Know Before Purchasing OTC Hearing Aids

On July 13, 2017, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 was passed by Congress. Over-the-counter hearing aids, or OTC hearing aids, were intended to make hearing health more accessible to millions of Americans.

A law established as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 directed the FDA to create a category of OTC hearing aids for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. As part of this process, in October 2021, the FDA formally proposed a rule to establish the new OTC hearing aids’ category. Finalized in August 2022, the final rule allows hearing aids within this category to be sold directly to consumers in stores or online without a medical exam or a fitting by an audiologist. Hearing aids for more severe hearing loss or for users younger than age 18 remain prescription devices. (source)

We first wrote about OTC hearing aids in 2017, not long after the legislation passed. Today, we’re exploring 4 things you should know before purchasing OTC hearing aids.

What is an OTC Hearing Aid?

An over-the-counter hearing aid is a device that you can purchase in-store or online, without the need for a prescription, and are intended for people with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. OTC hearing aids are expected to be available from around mid-October 2022. If you’re considering purchasing an over-the-counter device, keep reading as we explore a few things you should know before buying over-the-counter hearing aids.

4 Things to Know Before Purchasing OTC Hearing Aids

While we agree that over the counter hearing aids can help open up hearing solutions for many, we still advise that you consider your options. Here are 4 things you should know about OTC hearing aids.

They are not Suitable for all Hearing Impairments

OTC hearing aids are designed for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. They are not suitable for individuals with more profound hearing loss. OTC devices are also limited on how loud they can be turned up, and are also not suitable for people with more complicated ear conditions.

They are not Individually Fit

When you visit a hearing healthcare specialist, they will work with you to ensure your hearing aids fit correctly. This is important. If the devices do not fit correctly or are uncomfortable, you may end up not wearing them as often as you should. These over the counter devices do not offer this level of customized fit.

No Ongoing Support

You wake up in the morning, and your OTC hearing aid doesn’t want to switch on. You’ve tried to troubleshoot it yourself, but unfortunately this isn’t a ‘fix it yourself’ type of situation.

It may sound extreme, but it’s a likely scenario. And unfortunately, over the counter hearing aid do not come with ongoing support.

If you choose to get your hearing aid devices through your local hearing clinic, you’ll also benefit from ongoing support. That means their specialists are on hand to help troubleshoot your device. They’ll also be able to help clean it when needed. Plus, if your device needs further fine-tuning, they can help with that! It’s a personal touch that’s missing with OTC hearing aids.

Maintenance & Service

Currently, there is no set regulation on OTC hearing aids that covers malfunctions, service issues, or if the device stops working. Individually, manufacturers will set their own service and warranty periods.

Traditional hearing aid devices that you get through a hearing clinic will come with a more comprehensive warranty. It will often not only cover damage, but also in many cases loss replacement.

Unable to Identify Underlying Issues

Hearing loss can have a number of causes. In some cases, it may be an underlying medical condition that is impacting your ability to hear. Because OTC hearing aids don’t require a hearing assessment, these conditions can go unnoticed.

Need Help? Contact Us Today!

Over-the-counter hearing aids can help open hearing solutions for millions. However, when you consider the downsides to OTC hearing aids, you may be more inclined to work with your local hearing clinic.

At Anderson Audiology, our specialists are available to help. Call us today at 702-997-2964. Alternatively, click here to request an appointment online.

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