What’s the Difference?
There are currently many conversations regarding over-the- counter (OTC) hearing aids. I had some of my patients ask about the differences between a hearing aid and an OTC hearing aid.
To give some background, OTC hearing aids do not currently exist. The Federal Drug and Food Administration (FDA) is projected to propose legislation in early August 2020. With reviewing the FDA Reauthorization ACT of 2017, OTC hearing aids will only be offered to the adult population (18 years of age and older). They will provide adequate amplification for ONLY mild to moderate hearing loss. The user will be able to control settings on their OTC hearing aids and have access to wireless capabilities.
Currently, direct-to-consumer (DTC) hearing aids are hearing aids that are sold online or in stores, but they do not adhere to OTC hearing aid regulations (since regulations have yet to be published). Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs) are intended to “enhance” situational listening but should not be considered a solution for hearing loss.*
Prescriptive hearing aids have FDA approval and must be dispensed by a licensed audiologist or hearing aid dispenser. This provides the patient with rehabilitation for a range of hearing loss and communication difficulties.
Hearing aids provide amplification as well as sophisticated technology. The main difference between OTC hearing aids and prescriptive hearing aids is the professional services that the patient receives to fit the patient for their type of hearing loss and communication needs and difficulties.
The cost of untreated hearing loss can lead to a decrease in quality of life. If you feel you are struggling in different communicative situations, scheduling a hearing evaluation is key to determine your current hearing status and provide a professional recommendation.
*Bailey, A. (2018, September 11). Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids. Retrieved December 9, 2018 from https://www.hearingtracker.com/over-the-counter-hearing-aids.