The attempt to save money will hurt the hearing impaired.Audiology by Accent
Hearing aids will soon be available to purchase over the counter without a prescription since the passage of the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017, which was signed into law by President Trump. This means that people who have a mild to moderate hearing loss will be able to purchase hearing aids without first obtaining a hearing exam. While this might sound like a good idea to many people, the ability to purchase hearing aids over the counter without getting a hearing exam may actually cause more harm than good to people who are hearing-impaired.
When will over-the-counter hearing aids be available?
While the law was passed in 2017, over-the-counter hearing aids are not yet available. This is because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is still writing regulations about the devices and how they will work. The FDA has until 2020 to finish writing the regulations, which means that the devices will not be available on the market until afterward.
The draft regulations are expected to be published by the FDA on Aug. 18, 2020. After its publication, there will be a period of time during which the public will be able to comment before the final regulations are completed.
Concerns about over-the-counter hearing aids for the hearing-impaired population
With over-the-counter hearing aids, people will not have the benefit of obtaining a hearing exam from an audiologist. This can be problematic for several reasons. People suffer from hearing loss because of a number of different reasons. They might have any of the following underlying conditions:
- Auditory processing disorders
- Tumors of the acoustic nerve
- Middle ear tumors
- Middle ear disease
- Sensorineural hearing loss
If people do not see an audiologist for a professional examination, these and other medical problems might be overlooked. This can cause more serious problems to develop in addition to the hearing loss.
People who obtain hearing aids without a prescription might rely on hearing tests on the internet. However, these tests are not precise and may give inaccurate results. If people order hearing aids online, the devices will not be properly fitted or calibrated. If a person overamplifies the sound coming in through the hearing aids, the overamplification can cause further hearing loss.
Another issue is that making hearing aids available to people without a prescription means that people will be able to order them online from other places. People might search to try to find the cheapest prices possible for their hearing aids, which might mean that they come from other countries with fewer safety regulations. Looking for the cheapest possible prices also means that people might not be supporting their own local communities, which can cause a weakening of the economy at-large.
The law was passed ostensibly to help people who are hearing-impaired but who have trouble affording hearing aids. However, the legislation does not help to protect people or to make the economy stronger. Instead, it has the potential to harm both. If you have noticed that your hearing has worsened, it is a good idea to talk to a professional audiologist.
An audiologist has the knowledge to help you to identify what has caused your hearing loss and the best types of hearing aids that can help you. This can help to protect you from suffering further hearing loss and to identify any underlying medical conditions that might also need to be addressed. To learn more, contact us today and schedule an appointment so that you can learn about your hearing and the types of hearing aids that might work for you.