For years consumers have been able to purchase basic eye-glasses at the local pharmacy or convenience store, but what about a basic hearing aid? Well, the time is coming. In 2017, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act was passed, which makes room for Over-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids. Also known as “Personal Sound Amplification Products”, or PSAPs, these devices will be available for purchase at local pharmacies or convenience stores. While we wait for FDA approved OTCs to hit the shelves, let’s take a quick look at some basic pros and cons regarding OTCs:
- As stated, OTCs will be available at convenience stores such as Walgreens; which will provide ease of accessibility for those needing hearing amplification.
- Along with the convenience of purchasing an OTC hearing aid, products will also be less expensive, which may allow more of the public to receive necessary hearing assistance.
- A lower price and easier accessibility both supports and encourages people to take ownership of their hearing health.
- OTC hearing aids may help users with moderate hearing problems.
- While OTCs may help with mild to moderate hearing problems, they may be incapable of aiding in more serious hearing issues.
- OTCs will not be able to diagnose or treat the root cause of hearing loss.
- OTCs may be cheaper due to the loss of additional assistance, such as not included professional-level setup or maintenance of the hearing aid.
- While OTCs may help in the short run, they may only delay users from seeking professional help diagnosing and treating their hearing loss.
According to WebMD, a person dealing with hearing loss may wait an average of seven years before seeking assistance. Even though OTC hearing aids will offer a level of more immediate and independent care, consumers should be wary about trading care for convenience. We suggest that if you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, or an issue with hearing, that you set up an appointment with an auditory professional, and/or a hearing diagnostic exam, to determine what kind of hearing aid best fits your needs.