Recently, the FDA approved the sale of over the counter hearing aids. They are approved for adults 18 years of age and older who have a mild to moderate hearing loss. These devices do not require a hearing test. The user is responsible for programming, adjusting and cleaning the hearing aids.
As an audiologist we have received many questions about these devices. It is important to understand the limitations of these devices and the necessary care to use them. Experienced hearing aid users will be taking a step backwards with technology if they decide to move to the over the counter products. Hearing aids fit to your hearing loss by an audiologists are not the same as over the counter products. However, I am excited that this legislation shines a light on the importance of treating hearing loss and makes people aware of the value in early intervention.
People often ask; “how is this going to affect your business”. My answer is always the same. We are in a service industry, my day is filled with service calls. Increased access to hearing devices is going to make audiologists more in demand to provide proper care and rehabilitation to a huge population of people who have been neglecting their hearing needs.
If you are interested in pursuing over the counter products I would recommend scheduling a hearing test with an audiologists. Although it is not required for these products it is a good idea to know what degree of hearing loss you have. It is also a good idea to understand the nature of your loss. Are the difficulties you are having due to wax? Is there something else medically going on? An audiologist can help to answer these questions.