Over-the-counter hearing aids, OTCs, are hearing devices that are sold off the shelf directly to consumers. The FDA does not regulate them, and as such, they are also known as PSAPs (personal sound amplification products).
However, they are gaining popularity and with good reason. But why now? Why aren’t all hearing aids over-the-counter?
Are OTCs Better?
An OTC is a very basic hearing aid. It’s sold off the shelf and, therefore, must be adjusted by the patient. The fit, volume, and maintenance must all be done by the patient.
Without a professional hearing assessment, it becomes challenging to get the most out of your OTC.
Our staff here at Audiology Associates, Inc. is trained to specialize in all hearing aids and devices. If you have an OTC and are unsure how to use it or have any questions or concerns, we invite you to bring it in, and we can help.
OTCs can be useful to the right person with the right product. The big OTC companies are promoting their products by trying to cut out the middle-man, which in this case is the audiologist. We advise all our patients to get a hearing assessment first to see if an OTC is right for them.
Can You Get One Now?
OTCs are available now despite not being regulated by the FDA as opposed to hearing aids which are regulated by the FDA. This makes it more important to seek professional advice before purchasing an OTC, as getting the wrong one could lead to increased damage.
The cost can vary greatly, but in general, they will be less expensive than purchased with your audiologist.
Don’t let this be a deciding factor; as with most things, you get what you pay for. An OTC can benefit a patient greatly in the right circumstance. They provide added support to those that experience minor loss of hearing.
Although OTC’s are definitely not suitable for hearing loss that’s anything worse than mild, I think they have a place in the market, and I believe we will be carrying them in our offices soon. They will assist certain patients who exhibit specific symptoms and work to improve their everyday life.
The Future of OTCs
OTCs will be much more common in the future. These devices are very basic and only provide minor amplification and/or background noise reduction. Some of them look like headphones, while others fit directly in the ear canal.
Soon they will be available more commonly; however, the prerequisites to getting one will not change. It’s important to get a hearing assessment first before investing in any OTC hearing device. We can assist and direct you through the buying process to ensure your device is helping and not hurting.
If you already have an OTC device and are not happy with it, please bring it in to have our team of professionals exam it. We will help with adjustments, cleaning, fitting, etc., or help you replace it with a more suitable device.
The future of OTC hearing devices could be promising if fitted and prescribed correctly; they can greatly improve the hearing issues of millions of people.