Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids—What to Know
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved over-the-counter hearing aids for consumers with mild to moderate hearing loss. While this might make hearing aids more accessible to millions of Americans, it is still important for people to consult a professional audiologist before purchasing these devices.
Pros of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
There are a couple of pros of over-the-counter hearing aids. Some people fail to get hearing aids because they are concerned about cost, so their hearing loss can become progressively worse while they wait to get them. Getting hearing aids while hearing loss is still in its early stages can help to improve outcomes since the auditory nerves will continue to be activated. People who live in rural areas might not have a hearing professional close to them and might instead choose to purchase over-the-counter hearing aids from a local pharmacy.
Why It’s Still Important to Consult an Audiologist
While making hearing aids more accessible is a good idea, there are reasons why people should still consult audiologists before they purchase these devices. Patients who have serious underlying causes for their hearing loss might not timely receive the needed treatment. For example, if someone’s hearing loss is caused by a brain tumor, they might go without treatment for a long time before the tumor is discovered.
Audiologists also offer return policies for prescription hearing aids, but over-the-counter device manufacturers are not required to offer them.
Audiologists program prescription hearing aids to prevent their patients’ hearing loss from worsening because of exposure to loud noises. The FDA does not require over-the-counter hearing aids to include volume limiters, so consumers who use them could suffer further hearing damage if their OTC devices are not properly set.
People who suffer from hearing loss should consult an audiologist. Some hearing loss cases result from serious underlying conditions, including stroke, brain tumors, or infections. If a person has an infection, an audiologist can identify it so that it can be treated with antibiotics. An audiologist can help determine why a person has suffered hearing loss and explain whether they might need treatment beyond hearing aids.
Anyone who experiences the following symptoms should see an audiologist:
- Tinnitus in one ear
- Ear discomfort or pain
- Sudden hearing loss
- Hearing loss that rapidly changes
- Drainage from the ear
- Feeling like something is inside of the ear
Before deciding to purchase over-the-counter hearing aids, people should consult an audiologist. Many audiologists offer OTC hearing aids or prescription hearing aids at similar prices. An audiologist can adjust the hearing aids and help with cleaning and maintenance of them whether they are OTC or prescription devices and ensure they are properly set. Audiologists can also monitor a patient’s hearing loss.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are only designed to address mild to moderate hearing loss. People who choose them without the help of an audiologist will also not receive a proper fitting or have their devices tuned based on the results of a hearing test. Without getting a prescription, they might not be able to hear at their potential.
Finally, audiologists professional size hearing aids and offer follow-up fine-tuning. If someone purchases an OTC device without consulting an audiologist, they might be discouraged when their hearing aids do not provide the results they want and give up wearing them.
Contact Accent by Audiology
If you have noticed that you aren’t hearing as well as you used to, you should reach out to the professional audiologists at Audiology by Accent for a consultation. Call us today at (352) 271-5373.