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

Do you remember 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 begin to get a little more particular. Your ice cream tastes become more specialized and you tend to opt for your favorite brand. Those little containers begin to become more appealing.

Still, if you’re hosting a large dinner party, you’re likely to spring for those generic buckets of Kemp’s ice cream. 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 the best choice.

Of course, we’re also referring to hearing aids here. How good are those new over-the-counter hearing aids? Well, it’s a lot like that ice cream: it depends on what your goals are.

Hearing loss can have significant affects

Hearing loss can have a significant impact on your day-to-day experiences. When you have neglected hearing loss, you can encounter social isolation, it’s harder to have even basic conversations, so you stay away from situations where you confront other people who might want to speak with you.

Which means you find yourself 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 mental decline as you get older.

So it’s not simply that you’re unable to hear what your friends and family are saying, but you could also be increasing your chances of other potentially severe health problems.

How do over-the-counter hearing aids function?

Given the harm that hearing loss can lead to, it’s not very difficult to recognize the attraction of hearing aids that are easy to get.

By their very nature, over-the-counter hearing aids are designed to be convenient. Instead of going to consult a hearing specialist and getting fitted for hearing aids, you just walk into your local pharmacy. You’re on your way home right after you pick up and pay for these devices. They essentially amplify all of the sound around you.

This can have a profoundly positive impact on your life.

In some situations over-the-counter hearing aids can do the job

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 focused on getting hearing aids to more people who really need them for their neglected hearing loss.

It’s never been hard to get a prescription hearing aid, but it is a process. Many people, sadly, feel intimidated by this process so they stay away from it. For people who aren’t quite ready to make that leap, over-the-counter hearing aids could be a good option. But over-the-counter hearing aids weren’t manufactured to replace their prescription counterparts.

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.

How are OTC hearing aids different than prescription hearing aids?

In general, OTC hearing aids are not quite as powerful, capable, or personalized as prescription hearing aids. They won’t be personalized to your distinct requirements and they won’t fit as well.

So is there anything useful or positive about OTC hearing aids? Well, yes, in specific cases. OTC hearing aids might be the best option if:

  • You’re never going to get a hearing test. (Some people never will, even though they definitely should.) Usually, using an OTC hearing aid will be better than using no hearing aid.
  • Your hearing specialist is recommending an OTC. (For optimum outcomes, ask your hearing specialist to go over settings and style types that might work best for you.)
  • You want a spare set to use for emergencies.
  • Your hearing loss is in the early stages and is very simple. For mild cases of hearing loss, these devices will work ok.

Typically, OTC hearing aids are sold with specific presets already programmed in. Some devices are more effective for low-frequency hearing loss, others might be effective for high-frequency hearing loss. (This is why it’s good to know more about your own hearing loss before you purchase any hearing aid, OTC or not).

OTC hearing aids are frequently not the ideal option

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

Well, let’s just say that OTC hearing aids aren’t a good fit for everyone in every situation. OTC hearing won’t be the ideal choice for you if:

  • Your hearing loss has advanced to a fairly severe 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.
  • You don’t know precisely which hearing aid to buy: The wrong hearing aids can actually make your hearing worse for somebody who has hearing loss. (It’s like the equivalent of wearing really loud earbuds.)
  • You need to hear in complex or noisy settings. Most prescription hearing aids can be customized depending on what you need to hear and where you need to hear it.
  • Is the money you spent really worth it if that OTC hearing aid isn’t effective in treating your hearing loss?
  • Your hearing aids don’t fit very well. Sometimes, you might need something with a custom fit, which is only feasible with a prescription hearing aid.
  • You’re only thinking about OTC hearing aids because of perceived cost savings. Well, prescription hearing aids frequently don’t cost much more than OTC hearing aids.

Are there any dangers that come with OTC hearing aids? You could be wasting good money and further damaging your ears by using OTC hearing aids if they’re not the best solution for your distinct hearing loss.

See a hearing specialist either way

For some individuals, OTC hearing aids will be fine, but for others, prescription hearing aids will be appropriate. Whichever option is best for your circumstance, your hearing aids will work better after you get an appointment with us.

You will be capable of getting better treatment once 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 circumstance.

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

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

The content of this blog is the intellectual property of and is reprinted here with permission. The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive a hearing aid consultation, call today to schedule an appointment.