There are nearly 29 million adults in the US who could benefit from wearing hearing aids. It’s hoped that the introduction of over the counter (OTC) hearing aids may provide an alternative option for those with a mild to moderate hearing loss. OTC hearing aids are a new category of hearing aids that will be available to buy online and in stores without a prescription and without professional assistance.
It can take between seven and 10 years for a person to finally seek help for their hearing loss. The hope is that OTC hearing aids will make affordable hearing health care more accessible to those whose hearing loss will otherwise go untreated. If you want to find out more about this new category of hearing aid, here are five key things you need to know about over the counter hearing aids.
There are nearly 29 million adults in the US who could benefit from wearing hearing aids.
Back in 2017, the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act was passed which authorizes the sale of hearing aids without the need for a prescription or medical referral. The act gave the FDA until August 2020 to publish its regulations for this new category of hearing aids. The FDA is now preparing to put out preliminary guidelines on the over the counter sale of hearing aids and gather feedback from hearing aid manufacturers, providers and consumers before publishing its final set of guidelines.
When OTC hearing aids will become available depends on how long it takes for the FDA to obtain and review comments on its guidelines and to reach its final regulations. Concerns by hearing care professionals regarding how the federal law will affect state licensing guidelines and the impact of competition from unregulated suppliers could further delay the process.
A lot more will be known about these new types of hearing aids once the FDA publishes its regulations. However, based on the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017, we do know that OTC hearing aids:
OTC hearing aids will be different from a personal sound amplification product (PSAP) which is not regulated by the FDA. While these do amplify sound, they aren’t able to compensate for any hearing loss.
One of the aims behind introducing OTC hearing aids is to offer people a lower cost hearing aid alternative. Traditional hearing aids along with support from a hearing care professional can vary widely but generally costs between $1,000 and $4,000 per hearing aid. However, some specialists predict that the new OTC hearing aid options could be priced as low as $200 and as high as $1,500.
While there are undoubtedly advantages to OTC hearing aids, there are some concerns about whether they will always be the right option for consumers. For example:
Leaving your hearing loss to continue untreated can have a devastating impact on your quality of life. If you think you are experiencing any degree of hearing loss, however small, you may benefit from wearing a hearing aid. It’s a good idea to book a hearing evaluation with a hearing care professional as your first step. They will be able to evaluate your hearing and give you the best advice for your specific hearing needs.
It's time to finally treat your hearing loss. Sign up for a free consultation with a licensed hearing care professional today to determine if you have hearing loss. It’s the start of your journey towards better hearing.