Perhaps you’ve seen them advertised online or maybe your friend has a pair.

Or maybe you’ve seen the price tag and you’re wondering why more people don’t know about them.

Over-the-counter hearing aids (OTC) are a convenience-based hearing aid device, which you can purchase online or through your local store.

They are seen as a “cheaper” alternative to hearing aids, allowing them to be accessible by anyone without having to see an audiologist.

On paper, it sounds great. But what are the real differences between over-the-counter hearing aids and traditional hearing aids?

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about OTCs and traditional hearing aids, including the long-term implications of both.

#1 – Assessing Your Hearing Health

Most hearing technology is chosen based on an individual’s personal and medical preferences, as well as taking into account a person’s lifestyle.

It’s based on their audiometric results or how they do, not just when they hear bleeps and listen to tones in the sound booth, but also functionally how they respond to noise.

The depth of research which goes into a hearing assessment is extremely complex and intelligent, as it gives us a full scope of your hearing loss concerns.

Without a hearing assessment, we are unable to recommend an appropriate hearing aid for your individual requirements.

Then we move on to OTCs, which although regulated, do not require any medical background or information about the patient before purchasing.

If you have a serious hearing loss, do not expect to be satisfied with an OTC. You must take into account that they will not medically treat your hearing loss and it may possibly make your issues worse.

The nature of OTC hearing aids means that they can be purchased upfront without any of the extra baggage, meaning you’re going in blind when you buy a pair.

#2 – Custom Fitting

Have you ever put a hearing aid into your ear and it just doesn’t feel right? Well, think of that as your everyday reality when you purchase OTCs.

Based around being a one-size-fits-all hearing aid, they are designed to be worn by any user, meaning you don’t have to visit a clinic to have your ears professionally molded.

This also means that they are more prone to falling out than regular hearing aids, so expect some discomfort from time to time.

#3 – The Quality of Sound

Hearing aids are seen as medical aids, allowing you to access an array of sounds you didn’t know existed.

With the rise of invisible solutions, hearing aid devices have an impressive range of digital features all while being discreet as ever. They can even filter out background noise in noisy environments!

On the other hand, while OTCs also work to increase sound, they are purely an amplification device. This means that they are solely designed to increase your hearing ability in certain situations and environments.

#4 – Price

When you compare price, OTCs are the cheapest out of the two, starting at as low as $200.

Hearing aids are a generally larger investment costing between $2000 and $5000, but this includes follow-up visits, hearing aid repairs, insurance, and a range of other benefits you wouldn’t receive from an OTC.

While the small fee seems reasonable, it comes at a cost, as you will expect to pay a further investment in the future.

As OTCs don’t treat hearing loss, you are still delaying getting the appropriate treatment, meaning your hearing may begin to decline further.

Help Yourself & Loved Ones

Deciding which hearing aid device is right for you can be confusing, especially with so much information available on the internet.

Whether you have a question about OTCs or simply want guidance on which hearing aid device is right for you, then you’re in the right place.

If you have any questions, then please know that we are eager to help – you can call us 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.