What are Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

Prescriptions and medical approvals can be critical for the proper treatment of any issue. However, isn’t it frustrating when you need them for the smallest problems? 

When it comes to hearing aid, the old-school methods required you to visit the practitioners and get approvals before purchasing them.

However, the OTC hearing aids cut the need for medical visits so that you can purchase them directly from the store. It’s a new category for adults who suffer moderate hearing loss.

OTC hearing aids were supposed to be in the market by now. But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA couldn’t go through the regulations. Therefore, consumers need to wait a bit longer before they can get their hands on these products.

Once the OTC hearing aids are out in the market, they will save consumers time and money in many cases. In one of its recent posts, Health discusses the OTC hearing aids and what we can expect from them in the future.

What are OTC Hearing Aids

Firstly, let’s explore how these devices are different from conventional hearing aids. Technically, they are just like any other hearing aids. However, the regulations from FDA allow consumers to buy these products without consulting a practitioner.

Earlier, the FDA termed hearing aids as Class I and II devices, which you could obtain only after consulting an expert. The amendment to the regulations came in 2017, allowing over-the-counter hearing aids sale to the public.

As per the American Academy of Audiology recommendations, OTC hearing aids must be accessible to American citizens without needing medical approvals.

Why OTC Hearing Aids is a Good Idea

OTC hearing aids can help their users in numerous ways. Here are some insights:

Affordable

Firstly, a lot of people avoid consultation from the experts because of the cost of treatment. Let alone hearing aids; the consultation charges can be enough to disrupt the idea of buying hearing aids.

Insurance Plans

Generally, most insurance plans do not include hearing aids, even though they make it to some companies’ Medicare plans.

Limited Access

There is limited access to hearing care professionals in many parts of the country. Hence, those in need of such equipment are unable to purchase them.

Popular Consumer Demand

Modern consumers are more informed and vocal about their rights. Therefore, they want more control over their Health, so OTC hearing aids can help them prevent hearing disorders independently.

When Can We Expect OTC Hearing Aids in the Market

The legislation passed in 2017, and the idea was to develop the regulations for a newly defined hearing aid category. Initially, the FDA decided to implement the regulations latest by August 2020.

However, like most other business and federal matters, the implementation of OTC hearing aid regulations suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, there is still time before the regulations implement because the FDA hasn’t yet given a time frame. Effectively, it means that the OTC hearing aids are currently non-existent. Sadly, we can’t tell when they will be available for the consumers.

Regular and OTC Hearing Aids – Is There a Difference?

Hearing amplifier devices help in amplifying sounds to improve the hearing experience. These are helpful in some environments. They may not be technically different from OTC devices, but they are not meant for hearing loss people.

Some hearing aid devices are technologically different. Generally, amplifiers will amplify the sounds while hearing aids improve sound quality according to the nature of hearing disability. Hearing aids are more sophisticated, and they may be specific to a patient.

Direct-to-Consumer Hearing Aids

Some hearing companies now provide online services for hearing aids. Direct-to-consumer hearing aids are an overlooked category that doesn’t require medical approvals.

All you need is an online hearing test that will assess whether you need the hearing aids. The online test is followed by an in-person audio examination by an audiologist.

Moreover, you can get the products shipped directly to your home. Also, there are many pieces of training and support available for understanding the use of these products. These services are many costs friendlier as compared to those from the audiologists.

What Audiologists Say

Audiologists have conflicting opinions about OTC hearing aids. Many of them believe that direct-to-consumer products may not provide the right hearing care to the users. 

According to Lindsey Jorgensen, a professor at the University of South Dakota, choosing a hearing aid is more complicated than it seems.

Lindsey believes that there are many steps to consider until one meets the requirement for a suitable product. 

She adds that hearing loss is not easy to recover from, and if there isn’t enough knowledge to back the decision, one may never find the right solution to their hearing problems.

According to Lindsey, because there are so many choices for hearing aids, it is easy to overlook the right options. Hence, a visit to the audiologist becomes pivotal in getting the proper treatment.

She believes that when the audiologist understands your physical needs, audiogram tests, and personal preferences, it narrows down to the most suitable solution. Hence, there is no alternative to such an approach in the online market.

Opinions like Lindsey’s, keep coming from audiologists and experts of the field. So, there is much debate on whether OTC hearing aids will become a reality.

Conclusion

OTC hearing aids are a thing from the future. Although there are many legal limitations, there are obvious pros and cons with these products. 

As time progresses and online tests become a norm, we may be able to ditch personal visits to the hearing experts and obtain our hearing aids  online.

However, it is best to listen to your practitioner and follow the legal process to get a personalized solution for your hearing problems until that happens.

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