Audiologists and other hearing care professionals have been talking for some time about the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act, the new ruling on over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids (as of August 16 this year), and what this now means for hearing care.

On one hand, they are all pleased that there will be more affordable options for hearing aids. On the other, they are dismayed that people will start thinking that all hearing care involves is a hearing aid. Nothing could be less true.

OTC hearing aids will be available in most retail stores starting October 17, as long as they meet the requirements set by the FDA for this category of hearing aid.

What OTCs Are

An OTC is a hearing aid that can be bought in any retail store or online without the need for a prescription from a hearing professional. This means the consumer will be able to buy a hearing aid with no professional hearing test, no medical diagnosis, and no fitting.

Who OTCs Are Intended For

OTCs are intended for people who think they have a mild to moderate hearing loss and are unlikely to invest in professional hearing care.

The purpose behind the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act was to make hearing aids available to the public at an affordable price without having to see a hearing professional.

It’s an excellent way to introduce hesitant people to the benefits of hearing aids, and hearing experts hope this act will help lower the high number of people with a hearing loss who neglect or delay hearing treatment.

With so many long-term consequences of not treating a hearing loss, this is a step in the right direction.

The Benefits of OTC

For the person who has a professionally diagnosed mild to moderate hearing loss and no medical issue is causing it, along with a budget that has prevented them from being able to invest in any type of hearing treatment, OTC hearing aids can be a great option.

We believe this category of hearing aid will prove itself worthy in the years to come as one that fills a sorely needed spot for some of our patients.

The Dangers of Treating a Hearing Loss with an OTC

The problems with buying a hearing aid without any professional hearing care beforehand can be serious:

  1. You might not have a hearing loss at all and instead have a buildup of earwax. You’ll have wasted hundreds on something you didn’t need.
  2. You might have a dangerous medical issue causing your hearing loss that won’t be caught or treated, leaving you with a condition that could have severe long-term consequences.
  3. Your hearing aids won’t be programmed to perfectly match the results of your hearing evaluation, and the settings you put in could cause further damage to your hearing.
  4. You might believe your hearing loss isn’t as severe as it is, and the OTC hearing aids don’t help your hearing loss.

If you’re interested in buying OTC hearing aids rather than prescription hearing aids, you can avoid most of the above by doing a hearing test with a hearing specialist first.

Who are OTC hearing aids for? Ask an audiologist.

OTC Hearing Aids vs Prescription Hearing Aids

There are many similarities and differences between buying OTC hearing aids and visiting Sound Audiology & Hearing Aids. Both require a certain amount of research to find the right product for you, but there are some key distinctions that you should be aware of before making your purchase.

Hearing test – Sound Audiology & Hearing Aids will provide you with a comprehensive hearing test to determine the severity of your hearing loss and which type of hearing aid would be best suited for you. OTC hearing aids, on the other hand, do not require a hearing test and instead rely on you to self-diagnose your condition.

Range of choices and features – Sound Audiology & Hearing Aids offers a wide range of hearing aid options from different manufacturers, with many including a tinnitus treatment feature, while OTC hearing aids are typically only available from a single manufacturer and don’t include tinnitus management.

Financing – Sound Audiology & Hearing Aids also offers a variety of financing options to make your purchase more affordable, whereas OTC hearing aids must be paid for in full upfront.

Local business – Sound Audiology & Hearing Aids has three locations in the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla for your convenience.

In general, Sound Audiology & Hearing Aids provides a higher level of service and support than you would typically find with buying OTC hearing aids, which typically only involves a sale and then radio silence.

Considering OTC Hearing Aids in the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla Area?

Our team of certified audiologists is here to help you every step of the way, from your initial hearing test all the way through to fitting and adjusting your new hearing aid, and we hope to support you on your hearing journey long term too.

If you’re considering purchasing a hearing aid, we encourage you to book a hearing test as your first step. We’ll help you find the perfect hearing aid to suit your needs and budget. Give us a call today!

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Lori Losey Lovato MA, FAAA, Audiologist

Discover articles and resources written exclusively by Lori Losey Lovato - MA, FAAA. Lori believes in developing close relationships with each and every patient.