Do you have trouble hearing but don’t know much about over-the-counter or prescription hearing aids. You’re not alone: so, Congress passed the over-the-counter hearing aid Act of 2017 to let adults with self-perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss buy hearing aids over the counter.

On August 16, 2022, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally released its long-awaited over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid guidance. This means that hearing aids can now be sold directly to consumers in stores or online without a medical evaluation or a fitting by an audiologist. The FDA has many regulations in place when buying an OTC hearing aid.

How Do I Get an Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid?

There are already a few companies that sell them online. Once the law is fully in placed in, OTC hearing aids that can be bought without a prescription could be sold in many places like pharmacies, stores and doctors’ offices. The Hearing Loss Association of America says that if you buy hearing aids over the counter, you should make sure they have a good return policy.

When it’s Better to See an Audiologist

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association says that a hearing aid fitted by a licensed audiologist will work better for you if you have any of the following health problems:

  • Unilateral
  • Hearing loss that came on quickly.
  • Noises in one or both ears that ring, roar or beep.
  • Take or have taken a drug known to cause hearing loss.
  • Have had chemotherapy or radiation in the head or neck area in the past.
  • Have pain in your ears all the time.
  • Have frequent dizziness.

The Final Rule on Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids in Depth

In simple terms, the new rule applies to hearing aids for adults 18 and older who appear to have mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Hearing aids for children or people with mild-to-profound hearing loss will still need to be given by an audiologist.

The FDA also finished rules that make it clear what the difference is between personal sound amplification devices (PSAPs) and over-the-counter hearing aids. This will help consumers understand that PSAPs are not for hearing loss as they just amplify sound.

Can I Use an Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid?

If you have mild hearing loss and are looking for something quick and accessible, OTC hearing aids could give you a small taste of what it’s like to hear better. If you only have trouble hearing sometimes, like in noisy places, in large groups or when you can’t see who is talking, an over-the-counter hearing aid can help, but it won’t fill the gaps in more complex listening environments.

Usually, your family and friends will be the first ones to notice your hearing loss. They might say that they have to repeat themselves, that you can’t hear them shouting from another room or that you turn the TV up too loud.

Who Can’t Use an Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid?

The National Institutes of Health says that if you have trouble hearing conversations even in quiet places or miss loud sounds like cars honking or announcements in public buildings, your hearing loss is worse than what over-the-counter hearing aids can help with.

Talk to an Audiologist About Degrees of Hearing Loss

See an audiologist right away if you have sudden hearing loss, a sudden drop in your hearing, a big difference between your hearing in one ear and the other or ringing in only one ear. This could be a sign of a hearing health problem. You will know what kind of hearing aid will help you once it has been checked out and treated.

Your audiologist will let you know the severity of your hearing loss, after you have had a hearing test. They will tell you about the different varieties of hearing aids that you can choose from, and which will be the best for you.

How Likely is it that I’ll Be Happy with an Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid?

A recent study found that people who use prescription hearing aids are the happiest with them. This preference came from how comfortable the hearing aids were and how well the study participants could hear speech in a group setting. While OTC hearing aids are looking to fill a gap in technology accessibility, custom-fit devices will provide you with a better and more precise listening experience.

The Advice of an Audiologist Is Very Important

It is essential for you to get help from a hearing health specialist if you have any of the signs above, or if over-the-counter hearing aids aren’t working for you. To learn more contact Baker Audiology & Hearing Aids call us today at (605) 610-3466.

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