As of this July, over-the-counter hearing aids (OTC hearing aids) will be available to purchase in the United States. Many people may be curious about this option for hearing loss and what it means for the industry, so here is some more information about them.

What are they?

Over-the-counter hearing aids can be bought directly in stores or online, and are mainly for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. These hearing aids will be safe and closely regulated by the FDA, as well as clearly labelled. There are some differences between OTC and professionally customized devices. Before purchasing, you should determine which version is right for you and your hearing needs.

Pros and cons

There are advantages and disadvantages to the introduction of OTC hearing aids. For one, they will make it much easier to order hearing aids online and at your convenience. These devices are also usually cheaper than buying them in a professional or medical setting. However, the price of OTC does not include accurate hearing tests or programming of the devices. The cost of professionally fitted hearing aids is usually bundled, meaning that you are charged for the devices, as well as consultations, tests, and follow-ups all at the same time. If you are new to buying hearing aids, over-the-counter may not be the best way to go, as there are a lot of steps to getting tested and fit for them. professionally bought hearing aids also typically have a longer warranty- around 3-5 years, as opposed to the OTC warranty of around 1 year.

Safety/Concerns about OTC

For those who can’t afford the entire process of customizing professional hearing aids, buying them over-the-counter could be very appealing. With the introduction of these devices, however, it’s important to be careful where they are purchased from. Buying them from Craigslist, Ebay, or any other websites that look untrustworthy can be dangerous to your health. Once these hearing aids are legal, there will no doubt be many scams, and people trying to make money from them. Just be sure that you are buying them safely and securely.

Many of those working in the health industry may be concerned that OTC hearing aids will steer people away from professional consultations. However, these products will allow the purchase of affordable hearing devices by those who would normally never consider it. This will likely drive many new patients to specialists for consultations, check-ups, and hearing tests over the years. If enough people get behind these OTC hearing aids-customers and professionals alike- the importance of healthy hearing will only become more prevalent in society. Those with hearing loss and those who can care for them will all see a major improvement.