If you have hearing loss, you’re not alone! Approximately 86% of Americans over fifty years of age who have hearing loss don’t wear hearing aids, according to a study conducted between 1999 & 2006 by the journal Archives of Internal Medicine Do you believe the cost is keeping you from getting hearing aids? The price is in fact a hurdle for many, which is why Congress passed a law in 2017 to authorize over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids for adults with mild/moderate hearing loss.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued their draft guidance that would allow hearing aids “to be purchased directly in stores and/or online without a medical examination, hearing test and a customized fitting by an audiologist or licensed professional. The intention is to increase competition in the hearing aid market, which will likely make them more affordable but not necessarily better.

It is important to know that OTC hearing aids are just for adults with mild hearing loss ages 18 and older. Moderate, severe, and profound hearing deficits as well as under age 18, will require a medical evaluation by a licensed healthcare provider.

An OTC hearing aid is very much different from your standard hearing aid. It usually will not include advanced technology and comes equipped with non custom factory presets and does not take into consideration any unique aspects of your hearing acuity. Adjustments or fine-tuning by a licensed professional is not provided as well.

The FDA is not recommending you avoid seeing an Audiologist or Hearing aid dispenser. In fact, a hearing evaluation is always encouraged before purchasing any hearing device, specifically OTC hearing aids because they are limited to only certain hearing deficits. A hearing examination also helps you identify any potential serious underlying medical conditions that may be causing your hearing deficit and lead to long-term consequences