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

Do you recall those gallon buckets of ice cream you used to get at grocery stores? A whole gallon of ice cream, yum!

But as you grow up, you start to get a bit more specific. 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.

But you will still probably opt for that big bucket if you’re hosting a large dinner party. Which means that each type of ice cream has its own unique strengths and weaknesses. In some circumstances, you will want to go with the specialized option, and in others, the generic will be a better solution.

This same attitude also pertains to hearing aids. Are newer over-the-counter hearing aids worthwhile? Well, it’s a lot like that ice cream: it depends on what your plans are.

There can be real negative effects from hearing loss

Your day-to-day life can be significantly impacted by hearing loss. Social solitude that often comes along with hearing loss can cause you to avoid having conversations because you’re unable to hear what people are saying.

Which means you wind up estranged from your friends and family. You even steer clear of the cashier at the grocery store. It’s lonely. And as you get older, your cognitive faculties can decline faster.

So not only are you missing out on conversations with your loved ones (making holidays and birthdays a lot less enjoyable, for instance), but you have other health issues to worry about also!

How do over-the-counter hearing aids work?

Given the harm that hearing loss can lead to, it’s not hard to see the appeal of hearing aids that are easy to purchase.

By their very nature, over-the-counter hearing aids are designed to be convenient. You just walk into your local pharmacy and you never need to make an appointment with a hearing specialist. You’re going home right after you get and pay for these devices. Once they’re in your ears, they work to boost the sound around you.

This can have a profoundly positive affect on your life.

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

In 2022 the Food and Drug Administration changed some rules about the sale of hearing aids that allowed stores including pharmacies to sell them. The idea was that if hearing aids were more conveniently available, you’d wind up with fewer people who had neglected hearing loss.

It’s never been hard to get a prescription hearing aid, but it is a process. Many individuals, unfortunately, feel intimidated by this process so they stay away from it. Over-the-counter hearing aids may not be a bad solution for individuals who just aren’t ready to make the leap. But prescription hearing aids were not meant to be replaced by over-the-counter models.

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

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

Generally speaking, OTC hearing aids aren’t quite as powerful, capable, or customizable as prescription hearing aids. They won’t be personalized to your distinct requirements and they won’t fit as well.

So, are over-the-counter hearing aids worthwhile at all? There actually can be some benefits to an OTC in specific situations. An OTC hearing aid may work best for you if:

  • You keep a pair around just in case your prescription hearing aids need to go in for repair.
  • Your hearing specialist is suggesting an OTC. (For best results, ask your hearing specialist to go over settings and style types that may work best for you.)
  • Your hearing loss is in the early stages and is really simple. These devices are great for really mild or moderate hearing loss.
  • You’re never going to get your hearing checked. (You really should. But we also understand that some individuals simply never will.) Generally speaking, using an OTC hearing aid will be better than using no hearing aid.

Usually, OTC hearing aids are sold with specific presets already in place. Some types are good for low-frequency hearing loss, others may be good for high-frequency hearing loss. (So before you buy a hearing aid, you should definitely get a better idea of your level and type of hearing loss.).

OTC hearing aids are frequently not the ideal choice

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

Well, let’s just say that OTC hearing aids aren’t a great fit for everyone in every circumstance. In general, OTC hearing aids might not be the right solution for you if:

  • Your hearing loss has progressed to a fairly profound stage. More profound cases of hearing loss will require a more powerful prescription hearing aid while mild cases may do fine with OTC hearing aids.
  • Exactly which hearing aid to invest in is still uncertain to you: For some individuals who have hearing loss, the wrong hearing aids can actually harm their ears. (It’s like the equivalent of using really loud earbuds.)
  • You’re only considering OTC hearing aids because of perceived cost savings. Well, prescription hearing aids often don’t cost a great deal more than OTC hearing aids.
  • Is the money you paid really worth it if that OTC hearing aid is that much lower in power?
  • OTC hearing aids are not custom fit the way you might need them to be. In some cases, you might need something with a custom fit, which is only possible with a prescription hearing aid.
  • When you’re in challenging and noisy settings, you need to be able to hear. Depending on what settings you need to hear in and precisely what you’re listening to, prescription hearing aids can be personalized for those situations.

What are the dangers of over-the-counter hearing aids? Generally speaking, if you aren’t a good candidate for OTC hearing aids, you could be throwing some money away or making your hearing loss worse.

Either way, you should consult a hearing specialist

OTC hearing aids are a good fit for some individuals and prescription hearing aids are the best choice for others. Whichever option is best for your situation, your hearing aids will work better after you get an appointment with us.

You will be capable of getting 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.

In the same way, we can help you better adjust to a new set of hearing aids, and get the most out of the technology.

Schedule an appointment with us so we can help you determine what hearing aid type is best for you.

Call Today to Set Up an Appointment

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.
Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call or Text Us