Over-The-Counter hearing aids are available now and there will be more available soon.
I have written a couple of blogs about over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. And we have talked about how we believe that hearing healthcare providers, audiologists, and their teams should be the ones to help you. We know, however, that the over-the-counter hearing aid will be available at pharmacies, grocery stores, corner markets, and electronic stores over the next few weeks. We don’t know which brands they will carry or if they will only carry one brand. Time will tell.
What we do know is that we have the OTC Hearing aid available on our Hears Hearing & Hearables website.
We will carry the OTC hearing aids that are safe and of great quality. We will have choices for you. We will not choose only one brand and push it with kickbacks or any shenanigans like that. We are here to help you find your solution. It is true that not everyone likes one brand.. unless it is an apple AirPod, or is it that great? Maybe the AirPod is just fashionable. Anyway.. We also want to support the smaller manufacturers giving them a chance to compete in this space. I hope you too will give other products a chance because if we only support one brand, soon there will be no choices.
Will it really be that simple to buy a Hearing Aid online or at a store without the help of an expert?
Yes and no. (You didn’t really think it would that easy, did you?)
The OTC Hearing aid is going to be very helpful for many people. It will be especially for a number of people like those who live in under-served areas. Also helpful for people who now may be more willing to try a hearing aid to see what it is all about now that the hearing-aids will become more common, and less expensive. From the time a person is diagnosed with hearing loss and the time for them to get help can take as long as 10 years. Some people get help right away when diagnosed, while others digress. Everyone is different but in general, most of our patients say “I should have done this years ago” (referring to getting some hearing help). If you are reading this, you are probably someone who is interested in hearing health. Then you know that undiagnosed hearing loss can be a risk factor for dementia, depression, falls, and a sense of isolation. Hearing better improves your ability to process what you hear faster. Early treatment can make a life-changing difference for those who suffer from hearing loss.
So, there is no question that the new hearing aids that people can purchase over the counter will be a good thing for a great many people.
However, consumers need to educate themselves. Caveat Emptor. Yes, let the buyer beware, but also let the buyer be knowledgeable.
What do you need to know?
- While a hearing test is not required to buy one of these products, many providers recommend one and we recommend one. It is difficult for a consumer to know if their hearing loss is mild, moderate, severe, due to wax build-up, or some other medical issue. These OTC aids are meant for adults with a mild to moderate loss. You need to know before you buy the product if it is appropriate for you.
- Be sure you are purchasing an OTC hearing aid that will help you in the situation you want hearing help with. For instance, if you are having trouble hearing the TV and the TV only, then you might want to get a hearable or an accessory and not a hearing aid to just help you with the TV. If you are having a hard time hearing in noise, make sure you find a product that will work well for you in noise.
- Look at the product’s return policy, customer service plan, and warranty. Check the company website for more information about the device. Can you return it if you do not like the way it sounds?
- What happens if it stops working; can someone help you fix it or does it need to go into the manufacturer for repair? Who pays for those repairs? Where can you get help?
- This self-fitting process will be new for everyone. Hearing loss is not a one-size-fits-all. It is not like going to a pharmacy and buying a pair of readers (and according to our optometrists they share that buying readers people make mistakes all the time). Hearing aids, even over-the-counter hearing aids, are still going to be more expensive than vision cheaters.
- Hearing loss is complicated and individual. Give yourself time with your new aids. Be patient. Those who are a bit more tech-savvy may have an advantage. Some of these devices can be controlled through an app on your phone.
- Know what type of aid are you looking for or what you want it to do. Some will have batteries that need to be replaced every few days; depending on use. Others will have a rechargeable battery within the aid, and you will need a charger.
- Keep all your receipts for warranty purposes and for the IRS. These are medical devices so they could be listed as part of your annual medical expenses. Check with your tax professional. See if your insurance will pay any part of the cost, or if you can use your health spending account.
We at Hears Hearing & Hearables are here to support your purchase.
You are welcome to have a free conversation via our email contact or pay for professional consultation via our telehealth. We can help you find a provider near you that will help support your over-the-counter purchase. Some of the products we sell will allow for a thirty-day trial. Some of the products will allow for a two-week test. Please keep all your packaging if you do think you are going to return them. We recommend you return them if you are unhappy with the product and try something else. There will be so many choices. We can help you find the right choice and we will be sharing as much information we have on the products as they come out. We also will only sell those devices that we have tested out ourselves. We are dedicated to helping people on their hearing journey. It is our passion. If you purchase an aid through our website or from another site, we are here to help. There may be a charge for our service but service is going to be harder to find.
Going through this process could be daunting; you do not have to go it alone.
Thanks for reading, Karen (and Kim)