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 are experiencing 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.
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. Additionally, 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
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 with 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 navigating the process to determine whether you are a candidate for prescription hearing aids vs. OTC hearing aids is something we are here to help with. 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.