Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids and the Importance of Hearing Tests

man trying to hear better

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids and the Importance of Hearing Tests

In the past, hearing aids were only available with a prescription from an audiologist. Certain types of hearing aids have now become available over the counter. Do these hearing aids work as well as prescription aids from a hearing center? Find out more about OTC hearing aids and their efficacy in this guide.

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

Since the creation of the first hearing aids in the 1800s, these tiny electronics have been essential in treating hearing impairment or complete hearing loss. Miller Reese Hutchison first introduced the concept of a hearing aid in 1898. Since then, hearing aids have advanced exponentially to become what we use today. 

What started as a small electric device has now become a barely-detectable digital medical aid. These vital hearing tools have made significant progress in how they are built and function and how they are made available to patients. 

Can you buy hearing aids over the counter? For decades, hearing aids were only available through a hearing center for patients with a prescription from an audiologist. Now, hearing aids are available over the counter for anyone experiencing mild to moderate hearing impairment. 

As of October 2022, the FDA approved over-the-counter hearing aids for the public. This means individuals with perceived hearing loss can purchase OTC hearing aids in stores and online. Manufacturers of OTC hearing aids must ensure that their products are safe and effective for those with hearing impairment. They must also include labels that advise patients to seek professional treatment if they experience any adverse symptoms from their new hearing aids.

Benefits of OTC Hearing Aids

Are over-the-counter hearing aids any good? Getting hearing aids over the counter provides certain benefits that appeal to many people with hearing loss. The following are the most notable benefits of OTC hearing aids compared to prescription aids.

Easily Accessible

Sometimes patients have difficulty getting to a doctor’s office or hearing center to get hearing aids. Over-the-counter hearing aids are readily available in stores and online, making them much more accessible for patients to purchase.

No Prescription Required

Another benefit of OTC hearing aids is that they don’t require a prescription. If getting to an audiologist is not possible for you, you can now get hearing aids without being evaluated for hearing loss or having a prescription. If you notice that you are having a hard time hearing, you can purchase OTC hearing aids at your own discretion.

Less Expensive

One of the biggest benefits of over-the-counter hearing aids is that they are less expensive than prescription hearing aids. Many people struggle to pay the cost of their hearing aids, leading them to not get hearing devices at all. OTC hearing aids provide a cheaper alternative that can restore some extent of their hearing.

Disadvantages of OTC Hearing Aids

While over-the-counter hearing aids present several great benefits, there are also certain disadvantages. These are some of the downsides to choosing OTC hearing aids.

Cannot Be Adjusted

A major disadvantage of over-the-counter hearing aids is that they are simply amplifiers. They only amplify the sound around you to a pre-set degree. They cannot be adjusted to meet your unique hearing needs. This means that everyone who purchases them will experience the same amount of amplification, regardless of what level they actually need.

No Custom Fitting

When you get prescription hearing aids, they are custom fit to your ear canal. Over-the-counter hearing aids are designed as a one-size-fits-all option, which means they may not fit your ear properly. 

Not Appropriate for All Types of Hearing Loss

Can you buy hearing aids over the counter for any type of hearing loss? In reality, OTC hearing aids are not meant for all types of hearing loss. These devices are meant for individuals with mild to moderate hearing impairment, typically due to exposure to loud noises. They may not help those with severe, long-term hearing loss due to more significant underlying causes.

Who Is It For?

Who are over-the-counter hearing aids any good for? OTC hearing aids are a great option for younger, tech-savvy individuals who have mild to moderate hearing loss. These people will know how to operate their OTC devices and can find aids that work for their needs. They will also see an adequate resolution to their hearing impairment if their symptoms are only mild to moderate.

Why It Is Still Important to Get Tested

Not all hearing loss is the same, and getting a proper test is essential. Hearing aids may now be available over the counter, but getting tested for hearing loss is still important if you are experiencing symptoms. To have your hearing evaluated, make an appointment with the audiologists at Happy Ears Hearing Center today.