Over-the-counter hearing aids (OTCs) are a new type of device that is appearing on the market.

Offering a cheaper “alternative” to hearing aids, they are devices that consumers can purchase upfront without any medical background information.

This means that they are not custom-made for certain individuals and are usually dispensed via the internet or in your local store.

Recently, the FDA passed a law to make OTC hearing aids a regulated item, ensuring consumers are aware of certain precautions before purchasing them.

But what are the implications of an OTC device?

Who Are They For?

The nature of over-the-counter hearing aids means that they can be purchased by anyone, as they don’t require any paperwork or a medical history check.

This makes them a very convenient and cheaper option for those who don’t have the time to visit an audiology clinic. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for a pair of hearing aids, you can pay as little as $100 for OTCs.

Generally, they are suited for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, but due to the convenience of accessing them, anyone may find themselves with a pair of OTCs.

Except, this is a huge danger.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are purely amplification devices, so they work by increasing the volume. This means that if you have a serious hearing loss, you will not find satisfaction from them and it could even make your issues worse.

The FDA recommends that their use is solely for amplifying sounds in certain environments, and they must not be used to treat hearing loss. For example, security guards may find them useful when they are in a noisy environment.

OTCs Are Expected to Present Some Challenges

There are many complications around OTC devices, but here are some of the most important factors you should consider before investing in an OTC:

  • They are not properly fit your ear, so expect to experience some discomfort/ falling out from time to time.
  • It may make your tinnitus worse.
  • You may find it more difficult to understand speech.

With all that in mind, it’s important to consider whether a small-term investment is worth the damage it may potentially cause in the long run.

What Are the Benefits of OTC Hearing Aids?

While OTCs are not a medical solution to those with hearing troubles, there are certain circumstances where they work well.

In the right situation and right environment, they can provide accessibility to hearing technology when people aren’t able to visit an audiologist.

It may be that you live in an area where there are not those services available, or money is a setback, so OTCs work to benefit you in your transitionary period in between devices.

It’s not going to fit perfectly and it’s not going to work well, but it will get you through until we can get you into a provider and get you properly assessed.

A Hearing Assessment Ensures Your Hearing is Prioritized

You know that treating hearing loss is just one part of the puzzle and there are many other factors that contribute to the overall success of your journey.

When you visit the House of Hearing, the first thing we will do before we recommend any type of technology is schedule you in for a hearing assessment.

This allows us to examine your hearing in detail and outline a treatment plan for your hearing concerns.

If you decide to choose an OTC device, you must be aware that when you pay cheap prices, you should expect a cheap product.

If you or a loved one would like to learn more about anything in this article, or simply want advice on the options available, then you can get in touch with one of our experts at 801-657-4175.



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Liz Hankins, Au.D., CCC-A

Liz Hankins attended Utah State University where her undergraduate studies focused on communicative disorders and deaf education and where she received her doctorate of audiology in 2012. Dr. Hankins has a broad scope of experience including diagnostic testing for pediatric and adult populations, vestibular assessments, auditory verbal therapy, and cochlear implants, but her passion is hearing devices. Dr. Hankins is passionate about providing superior hearing health care and does it with a warm smile. She is extremely knowledgeable in the newest technology which allows her to make proper recommendations and provide stellar follow-up care. She has been actively involved with many international non-profit organizations, traveling to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Vietnam to provide audiology services, training, and hearing devices to children and adults in need. Dr. Hankins also works as an assistant professor at Utah State University and manages our clinical training program for audiology doctoral students from around the country. Dr. Hankins has a love for her family – she has 3 young daughters who keep her busy and laughing. She and her husband, Josh, enjoy traveling, trying new restaurants, and mountain biking. She recently started a new hobby of cookie decorating and you can find some of her yummy creations at @drcookiecutter on Instagram.