Q: How Do I Decide Whether to Buy an Over-the-Counter Hearing Device or Upgrade to a Standard Hearing Aid?
A: Over-the-counter hearing aids (OTCs), an upcoming new category of FDA-approved medical devices, aren’t yet available but may be in the near future. Here’s a look at how they differ from traditional hearing technology and the best way to determine what’s right for your specific hearing needs.
Though much is still unknown and changes are likely as regulations are being finalized, OTCs will be available for people 18 years and older with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. The products’ entry into the market could further expand access to needed hearing help and spur more people to seek care.
OTCs will have limitations, however, given that they’ll be only for adults and won’t be able to address a wider range of hearing levels. Plus, they potentially bypass the critical role of a hearing care expert. Without the help of a trained professional, it can be tough to pinpoint your level of hearing loss and the most effective way to address it.
Traditional hearing aids fit by your licensed audiologist, however, are part of a more comprehensive process that includes a diagnostic hearing evaluation to determine your level of hearing loss, if any; the underlying cause; and the right solution for your specific needs.
Also, traditional devices:
- Are already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Can address the full span of hearing loss — from mild to profound
- Are able to adjust to environmental variables, such as background noise
- Help your brain — which plays a crucial part in hearing — process sound
Knowledge is power. Whether you’re considering an OTC or wondering if you have hearing loss, it’s important to start with a hearing test and physical exam of your ears for a baseline understanding of your hearing health.
Hearing issues can originate from noise exposure, infection, earwax buildup, medication, or other causes that an exam may uncover. Bypassing a professional evaluation could mean missing out on key information you need to support your hearing.
At Shelby Hearing Center, nothing’s more important to us than helping you live better by hearing your best. That includes keeping you informed. Whether you have questions about today’s hearing technology or want a comprehensive picture of your hearing health, our caring experts can help!