Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Increase Accessibility to Treatment
These devices can function as a self-serve option, but did you also know that the top three reasons for hearing aid abandonment were background noise, lack of benefit , and poor sound quality across ten different studies? Additionally one study found that 73% of participants picked an inappropriate hearing aid based on their loss.
An Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid, which does not require a prescription, might seem like a straightforward way to get help if you are struggling with hearing. However, it’s difficult to navigate through the world of hearing assistance technology without any help from a professional. We offer OTC models in addition to prescription-only devices, but no matter what hearing device you use, help from a specialist ensures you’re getting the greatest benefit from the option you choose.
Why Did the FDA Approve Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids?
Proponents of over-the-counter hearing aids say they might be useful for adults who are experiencing mild hearing loss and only need sound amplification. According to one study, almost 86% of Americans 50 and older with hearing loss do not wear hearing aids. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to isolation, cognitive difficulties , and increased falls, so better access to treatment has many benefits. But over-the-counter hearing aids might not be the best solution for everyone.
The National Institutes of Health recommends prescription hearing aids for people who do not hear louder sounds or struggle to hear conversations in quiet settings. Additionally, the following groups should always receive prescription hearing aids:
- Children younger than 18
- Adults with dementia
- People who experience sudden hearing loss, a big difference between one ear and the other or tinnitus in one ear, which are potential signs of a medical problem
An Audiologist Plays an Important Role
While increasing the accessibility of hearing loss treatment is one of our team’s top priorities, an audiologist does more than provide you with hearing aids. Diagnostic hearing evaluations allow our audiologists to determine if your hearing loss is caused by a more serious medical condition and connect you with the appropriate care. When it’s time to move forward into a prescription model our providers will customize the device with individualized listening programs and ear specific sound mapping, so it best fits your communication needs and lifestyle. We’ll also teach you how to use your new hearing aid and effective communications skills so you can begin this new phase of your life with confidence.
However, every patient’s needs are different. If you feel an OTC model is the right choice for you at the start of your hearing journey, but ultimately discover that it is not ideal for your communication needs or becomes ineffective as your hearing deteriorates then it is time to seek help from a licensed professional.
Additionally, our providers offer ongoing support as you navigate hearing loss treatment. Your hearing loss may change with time and require adjustments to your hearing aids. Our team can do that for you.
Bottom line: when you work with one of our audiologists, you have a partner for your hearing loss journey. You aren’t in it alone.
Convenience Doesn’t Always Mean Quality
Like any medical device, over-the-counter hearing aids should be purchased with caution. If you’re working without the guidance of our audiologists, you’ll want to be sure that the sound isn’t set too high, as doing so could further damage your hearing.
Hearing Aids Are the Start of the Journey
Managing hearing loss isn’t a one-time event —it’s an ongoing process that includes monitoring and management over time. When you visit one of our audiologists for a fitting of prescription hearing aids, you aren’t just buying a product. You’re entering a partnership.
For those patients who elect to purchase OTC hearing aids, we carry select over-the-counter hearing aids in the office that have been verified and researched as effective models for their intended populations. Should you require instruction on their use or maintenance support, we require the purchase of a service package that will allow you access to our licensed professionals.