Over-the-Counter
Hearing Aids

Everything you need to know about OTC Hearing Technology

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

Everything you need to know about OTC Hearing Technology

a person wearing hearing aids speaks in a group of friends
a man online shopping on a laptop while at a café

What are over-the-counter hearing aids?

Over-the-counter (or OTC) hearing aids are a brand-new category of hearing aids. Unlike traditional models, where a patient will undergo comprehensive testing with an audiologist, dispenser, ENT clinic, or other professional hearing care provider, OTC hearing aids can be purchased direct-to-consumer, either online or in retail outlets.

What do OTC hearing aids do?

The intent of OTC hearing devices is the same as traditional hearing aids: to help the wearer hear speech and other important sounds better, when they’re missing certain frequencies or have difficulty distinguishing speech sounds in noisy environments.

Are OTC hearing aids just as good as regular hearing aids?

As these devices have not yet been released for use by the public, there is no available information regarding the quality of this hearing aid technology. In our professional opinion, technology without the guidance, understanding, and fine-tuning of an experienced professional isn’t as effective as it could be for the wearer.

Who are OTC hearing aids for?

The current language from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders states that over-the-counter hearing aid technology is intended for use by those with a mild to moderate hearing loss.

Are OTC devices available for purchase now?

As of this writing, OTC hearing aids are not available for purchase. For several years, the Federal government has been creating guidelines around this legislation, but has not given a definitive release date regarding this product.

Our recommendation is that anyone who is concerned for their hearing health should make an appointment with a hearing care provider as soon as possible in order to protect your current hearing and to secure recommendations for enhancing the frequencies that are missing.

Should I really buy hearing aids off of the internet?

We don’t recommend that you do. While the intent of these retailers is to simplify access, one way in which we believe these models cut corners is in regard to comprehensive testing. Our goal at Colorado Ear Care is to give patients the most accurate assessment of their ear and hearing health possible.

We feel that the more time we can spend testing while getting to know you and understanding your life experiences, the better we can provide you with personalized treatment recommendations.

a Colorado Ear Care audiologist fitting custom hearing aids

Are OTC devices FDA regulated?

Over-the-counter hearing aids will be regulated by the FDA. Their stated goal is that these devices should be safe, effective, and possess standardized packaging and labels, including “before you buy” warnings and indications of when people see a hearing care professional for a higher standard of care.

Are PSAPs the same as OTC hearing aids?

PSAPs (personal sound amplification products) are not the same as over-the-counter hearing aids. These devices are not FDA-regulated, and aren’t capable of doing anything for the wearer beyond amplifying sounds, which, if done without extreme caution, can damage the hearing even worse than before.

Try a one week no-risk hearing aid demo.

doctor placing a hearing aid on patient

Why are audiologists so important to hearing aid fittings?

Audiologists are essential to a great hearing care experience with hearing aids because an audiologist can provide a level of personalized care that can’t be achieved via an online transaction or from a retail outlet.

At Colorado Ear Care, our goal has always been to go above and beyond the average hearing care experience by providing comprehensive testing, personalized care, and an expert approach to precise hearing aid fittings.

I have noise-induced hearing loss. Should I use OTC hearing aids?

We recommend that anyone who suspects they have hearing loss see an audiologist for their hearing care, but those with noise-induced hearing loss should definitely seek an audiologist for their hearing care over a direct-to-consumer solution.

This type of hearing loss is often categorized in the moderate to severe range, and requires a level of care that only a professional can provide.

Why should I pay a professional for hearing aids?

When you’re investing in hearing aids, you’re really investing in yourself. It’s your hearing health, your mental and emotional health, and even your overall physical health.

Working with a trusted audiologist means you’re partnering with a hearing care professional who can combine their education, professional expertise, and experiences with all of their previous patients in order to provide you the most precise and personalized hearing care experience possible.

What types of hearing conditions are OTCs not intended for?

Trouble with hearing higher frequency sounds, as well as sounds like voices in quieter spaces are often a sign of a more severe type of hearing loss, and fall outside of the published intent of OTC devices.

Additionally, those people experiencing conditions like vertigo, tinnitus, excessive earwax, and sudden or increasingly severe hearing loss aren’t the intended people for OTC devices.

In these cases, it is highly recommended that an audiologist provide testing to determine the nature of your hearing situation.

A spiral inside of a head lying down representing positional vertigo
Vertigo
An ear experiencing pain from tinnitus
Tinnitus
Custom earmold next to an ear
Excessive Earwax
A hand cupped to an ear to represent hearing loss
Sudden or Severe Hearing Loss

I suspect I have hearing loss. What should I do?

If you suspect that you or a loved one has hearing loss, you should make an appointment with a trusted hearing care provider as soon as possible. Hearing loss is typically a progressive conditioning, meaning it gets worse over time.

In fact, hearing loss occurs in such a way that most people don’t even realize how much their hearing loss has worsened.

The sooner you are able to get appropriate testing and treatment, the sooner you can preserve the hearing you have while working to enhance the sounds that you are missing.

An audiologist reviewing hearing aid prices and cost with a senior couple

How can I learn more about OTC hearing aids?

Visit our blog on OTC devices, or book an appointment with us. We’d be happy to discuss OTCs, your hearing health, and help you get answers to all of your hearing health-related questions.

Get your one week no-risk hearing aid demo!