You’re Taking Chances if You go With Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids

Pharmacy drugstore blur abstract background with medicine and over the counter hearing aids on shelves

Remember when you used to be able to find those gallon buckets of ice cream at the grocery store? A whole gallon of ice cream, yum!

But you begin to become more specific in your taste as you get older. You begin opting for the more specialized ice cream: the Turkey Hill, the Tillamook, the Ben & Jerry’s. Those little containers start to become more enticing.

Still, if you’re hosting a large dinner party, you’re likely to go for those generic Kemp’s ice cream buckets. There are benefits and drawbacks to each choice. Generic is good in some circumstances, but you might want more specialized ice cream in other circumstances.

Obviously, we’re also referring to hearing aids here. How good are those new over-the-counter hearing aids? Well, much like our ice cream illustration, it depends on what you want to do.

Hearing loss can have serious affects

Your daily life can be seriously effected by hearing loss. When you have untreated hearing loss, you can encounter social solitude, it’s more difficult to carry on even basic conversations, so you stay away from situations where you encounter other people who might want to talk to you.

Which means you wind up estranged from your family and friends. You even steer clear of the cashier at the grocery store. It’s lonely. And it can bring about a faster cognitive decline as you age.

So it isn’t just that you can’t hear what your friends and family are saying, but you could also be enhancing your risk of other potentially severe health issues.

Over-the-counter hearing aids – how they work

It isn’t hard to understand why individuals would want to go towards hearing aids that can be bought easily, given the health consequences of hearing loss.

Convenience is the very backbone of the attraction of over-the-counter hearing aids. Instead of going to consult a hearing specialist and getting fitted for hearing aids, you just walk into your local pharmacy. You pick up a pair of these devices, pay for them, and go home. They essentially amplify all of the sound around you.

This can have a profoundly positive impact on your life.

Over-the-counter hearing aids can work in some situations

Over-the-counter hearing aids began appearing on store shelves in late 2022 after the Food and Drug Administration made changes to certain rules that allowed for their wider distribution. The rule change aimed at getting hearing aids to more people who really need them for their untreated hearing loss.

It’s never been hard to obtain a prescription hearing aid, but it is a process. And sometimes, that process can keep people away. Over-the-counter hearing aids may not be a bad solution for individuals who just aren’t ready to make the leap. But over-the-counter hearing aids were not designed to take the place of their prescription counterparts.

But this means that some of the burden of understanding when over-the-counter hearing aids are or aren’t the right choice lies with the individual.

What’s the essential difference between over-the-counter and prescription hearing aids?

As a general rule, prescription hearing aids are more powerful and have a lot more personalized features than OTC hearing aids. They will also not fit quite as well, and they won’t be customized to your needs.

So, are over-the-counter hearing aids worthwhile at all? Well, yes, in certain circumstances. OTC hearing aids may be the best option if:

  • You’re never going to get a hearing test. (Some people never will, even though they absolutely should.) Generally speaking, using an OTC hearing aid will be better than using nothing.
  • Your hearing specialist is suggesting an OTC. (For optimum results, ask your hearing specialist to go over settings and style types that might work best for you.)
  • Your hearing loss is in the early stages and is very simple. For mild instances of hearing loss, these devices will work just fine.
  • You keep a pair around just in case your prescription hearing aids need to go in for repair.

Usually, OTC hearing aids are sold with specific presets already in place. If your hearing loss is in the lower wavelengths, some types will be the right choice and if you have high-frequency hearing loss other designs will be the best choice. (So before you buy a hearing aid, you should definitely get a better concept of your level and type of hearing loss.).

When OTC hearing aids aren’t a practical fit

So, what are the drawbacks to over-the-counter hearing aids? Will you experience unwanted effects from OTC hearing aids?

Well every scenario won’t call for OTC hearing aids, let’s just say. In general, OTC hearing aids may not be the right solution for you if:

  • Your hearing loss has advanced to a fairly profound stage. More profound cases of hearing loss will call for a more powerful prescription hearing aid while minor cases may do fine with OTC hearing aids.
  • Your hearing aids don’t fit very well. In some cases, you might require something with a custom fit, which is only feasible with a prescription hearing aid.
  • You think OTC hearing aids will save you a lot of money. OTC hearing aids are usually almost as costly as their prescription-only counterparts.
  • Exactly which hearing aid to invest in is still unknown to you: The wrong hearing aids can actually make your hearing worse for somebody who has hearing loss. (It’s not a lot different than if you crank your earbuds up to a really loud setting.)
  • Is the money you paid really worth it if that OTC hearing aid isn’t effective in treating your hearing loss?
  • When you’re in complex and noisy settings, you need to be able to hear. Depending on what settings you need to hear in and exactly what you’re listening to, prescription hearing aids can be personalized for those situations.

Are there any risks that come with OTC hearing aids? In general, if you aren’t a good fit for OTC hearing aids, you could be wasting some money or making your hearing loss worse.

Either way, you should consult a hearing specialist

For some people, OTC hearing aids will be okay, but for others, prescription hearing aids will be needed. Whichever option is best for your situation, your hearing aids will work better after you have an appointment with us.

You will be able to get better treatment when you know more about your hearing loss. Whether your hearing loss calls for prescription hearing aids or OTC hearing aids, we can help you get the best treatment for your situation.

We can also help you get the most out of your new technology.

Make an appointment with us so we can help you find out what hearing aid type is best for you.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.