What to Know About OTC Hearing Devices
New regulations for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid sales came into effect on Oct. 17, 2022, which means adults aged 18 or older can purchase the devices – even without the essential help of a hearing health care professional.
Knowing the facts about these OTC hearing devices can help patients with all types of hearing loss find the best answers and treatment for their individual needs.
What Are OTC Hearing Devices?
An OTC hearing aid is a pre-adjusted type of hearing device that consumers can purchase directly from big box or online retail stores. No prescription or appointment with a hearing health care professional is required to obtain them.
OTC devices specifically help patients who experience mild-to-moderate hearing loss, according to guidelines from the FDA.
Considering FDA ‘Red Flags’
If you check off any of these FDA “red flags” below, we advise that you see a hearing health care expert:
· Your hearing gets worse and then better
· Your hearing is worse in one ear
· You experience tinnitus (a ringing, buzzing or whooshing sound) in at least one ear
· Your ear has an unusual shape, possibly since birth or due to an accident or injury
· You have had blood, pus or fluid leak from your ear in the past six months
· You experience ear pain or discomfort
· You deal with excessive earwax or feel that something’s “stuck” in your ear
· You feel dizzy or experience a spinning sensation (vertigo)
Why OTC Hearing Aids Are Not for Everyone
OTC hearing aids are only effective for treating certain types of hearing loss. That means many hearing loss patients will still require fitting, counseling and an ongoing treatment plan from a licensed hearing professional. It’s also important to remember that those who experience more severe forms of hearing loss or children under 18 are advised against using OTC devices.
Again, OTC hearing devices are for adults 18 or older who believe they have mild-to-moderate hearing loss. You may have mild-to-moderate hearing loss if:
· You often ask others to repeat themselves
· Sounds seem quieter than you remember
· You cannot hear people in a group setting
· Friends or family tell you that your TV or radio volume is too high
You should NOT consider OTC hearing aids if you:
· Cannot follow conversations in even the quietest environments
· Feel socially isolated or unable to stay engaged
· Rely on lipreading to understand conversations
An Expert Can Help Regardless of Your Choice
OTC devices are designed to be self-fitting, relying on the user to select the correct settings. Prescribed hearing devices, on the other hand, involve ongoing care from a hearing health care professional who can fine-tune hearing devices to your specific needs.
In some cases, an OTC device may be an adequate solution. However, hearing loss is an ever-changing condition, and leaving it untreated increases the risk of falls, depression and cognitive decline, according to the American Academy of Audiology. It's also important to remember that the final cost of getting OTC hearing devices can still be just as much, if not more, than higher quality hearing aids you receive from a trained specialist.
Hear Better to Live Better—Get a Comprehensive Hearing Test
We encourage everyone to get a comprehensive hearing test from a licensed and certified hearing health care professional. The earlier you start hearing loss treatment, the sooner you’ll get the kind of hearing aid and treatment plan that can improve your life. Then you can get back to enjoying your favorite hobbies, activities and social events.
Our experts at Heidi’s Hearing want you to succeed in your hearing loss treatment plan. Our goal is to give you supportive, compassionate care throughout your journey toward better hearing.
Call 508-796-5899 to learn more about all of our hearing products today.
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North Grafton, MA 01536
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