What To Know Before Buying Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids

hand holding a pile of various hearing aid styles

Statistics indicate that approximately 37-million Americans report some degree of hearing loss. Indeed, hearing loss can lead to social withdrawal due to difficulty communicating with others. It can cause people to miss some jobs or educational opportunities. Fortunately, hearing aids can improve hearing and enhance the quality of life for people with hearing loss.

Recently, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids have become accessible to the public, making it easier to get one. If you’re considering getting the devices soon, here’s what you should know to help you make an informed decision. 

What Are OTC Hearing Aids? 

OTC hearing aids are a new category that people can purchase without visiting their audiologist. And they are designed to cater to self-perceived cases of mild to moderate hearing loss. Just like their counterparts, OTC hearing aids are meant to amplify sounds and make hearing better for people with hearing loss so they can participate in their daily activities. 

Why Are OTC Hearing Aids Available? 

The effects of hearing loss on people’s lives have been documented. Yet only one in four adults uses hearing aids for various reasons. Some believe these devices are complicated to use, while others feel that acquiring and maintaining them are not cost effective. Some people also don’t have access to audiologists. Other reasons include discomfort, looking old and fear of how people will view them.

The FDA has established regulations regarding OTC hearing aids, and they:

  • Ensure that these devices are effective and safe for people with mild to moderate hearing loss.
  • Create standards for the package labels to help consumers understand these devices.
  • The labels must also indicate warnings and other information before using these devices. They should also indicate when to see the audiologist. 

What are the Advantages of OTC Hearing Aids? 

OTC hearing aids could be seen as more convenient, because of their quick availability; however, it’s important to note that is because they don’t require professional testing to customize your listening experience. Because you don’t have to go to a hearing center, you can order your devices online, which will be directly shipped to you. 

Who can Use OTC Hearing Aids? 

Only people aged 18 and older can use OTC hearing aids, meaning children below 18 need to visit the audiologist to get their devices. Additionally, it’s most suitable for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, which can often be difficult to pick up on without professional help when still in these earlier stages. And these signs can help you determine if you’re experiencing this type of hearing loss: 

  • Speech and sounds seem to be quiet. 
  • It takes more effort to hear when on the phone, in a group or noisy area. 
  • You need to turn up the volume higher than normal when watching TV or listening to music or the radio. 
  • You regularly ask people to repeat themselves and speak loudly or slowly. 

However, you’ll need to visit an audiologist if you can’t hear in quiet settings or can’t perceive loud music, vehicle sounds or noisy appliances. This may indicate that you have severe hearing loss and that OTC devices won’t work well. However, an audiologist can examine you and prescribe the most suitable option to address your hearing loss.

What are the Concerns About Using OTC Hearing Aids? 

Although OTC hearing aids can be easily accessible, they may not address your specific needs. Admittedly, self-guiding tests are available online or on smartphone apps. However, they may be unable to detect hidden conditions associated with hearing loss. Therefore, working with an audiologist is the more widely recommended option, especially when dealing with new cases of hearing loss or more severe symptoms.

The Benefits of Prescription Hearing Aids

Prescription hearing aids come in a variety of different styles, making them the most suitable choice for many because of their level of customization and personal preferences. The most frequently selected hearing aid styles include:

  • Behind the ear (BTE)
  • In the ear (ITE)
  • In the canal (ITC)
  • Completely in canal (CIC)
  • Invisible in canal (IIC)

Additionally, prescription hearing aids can be equipped with a multitude of different features to further advance your experience while wearing them. These features may include:

  • Multi-settings
  • Directional microphones
  • Feedback reduction
  • Background noise reduction
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Remote settings

For information about how you could benefit from having hearing aids fitted by an audiologist, talk with our friendly staff today. You can reach Hearing Solutions of Louisiana easily by calling us today at (337) 607-0630.