Over-the-counter hearing aids, which do not require a prescription, might seem like a straightforward way to get treatment for your hearing loss. However, it’s difficult to navigate through the world of hearing assistance technology without the help of a professional. One study found that 73% percent of participants picked the wrong aid based on their audiogram. An audiologist can provide the hearing aid that will serve you best and program it to fit your needs and lifestyle.
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 experience 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.
While the FDA has approved over-the-counter hearing aids, 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
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids Increase Accessibility to Treatment
If you’ve heard of over-the-counter hearing aids, then you may have also heard you don’t need a prescription to purchase them. While they are convenient to buy and often cheaper than the prescription hearing aid alternative, patients will benefit from a licensed medical professional’s oversight. Over-the-counter 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 10 different studies? Those are all common issues, and they can all be addressed by a hearing specialist.
An audiologist helps you select the best hearing aid for your lifestyle, programs it to your environment and adjusts it to your specific hearing loss. Help from a specialist ensures you get the greatest benefit from the option you choose.
What Are the Benefits of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids?
Increasing the accessibility of hearing loss treatment is one of our team’s top priorities. 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.
Typically, over-the-counter hearing aids benefit adults who experience mild hearing loss and only need sound amplification.
While these devices may work well for some, certain patients should always receive prescription hearing aids. 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.
An Audiologist Plays an Important Role
An audiologist does more than provide you with hearing aids. Every patient’s needs are different, and whether you opt for an over-the-counter or prescription model, our provider will customize the device so it best fits your lifestyle. They’ll teach you how to use your new hearing aid so you can begin this new phase of your life with confidence.
Our audiologist will also determine if your hearing loss is caused by a more serious medical condition and connect you with the appropriate care.
Additionally, our providers offer ongoing support as you navigate hearing loss treatment. Your hearing loss may change over 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.
Additionally, since over-the-counter hearing aids do not tell you about the cause of your hearing loss, it’s important to visit a medical professional to ensure that your hearing loss isn’t an indicator of a bigger medical condition.
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.
We want the best for our patients, and over-the-counter hearing aids do not offer the level of support our team believes in. For a superior hearing experience, call to schedule an evaluation with our audiologists today. We’re here to support you as you start this process.