An OTC device is a type of hearing aid that will soon be available to purchase over the counter (OTC) without having to see a licensed hearing professional beforehand.
These devices will be US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved and regulated.
These devices are not personal amplification sound products (PASPs) or direct-to-consumer (DTC) hearing devices, as those are not FDA regulated.
Why Are They Only Becoming Available Now?
Studies have shown that about 16% of 20- to 69-year-olds with a hearing loss do nothing about it, possibly because they are concerned about the cost of hearing aids. In response, a bill was passed in 2017 to provide the public with low-cost hearing aids without the requirement for professional care.
The final proposed rules and regulations were meant to be completed by August, 2020, but now the final date has been pushed back indefinitely.
However, I expect it might happen later this year.
Who Can Benefit from Wearing an OTC Hearing Aid?
OTC devices will be available to adults with a mild hearing loss.
I hope that many of the 23% of adults who have not sought out treatment for their hearing loss will consider even buying an OTC device as a first step toward helping themselves communicate more easily at home and at work.
Living in a world where it’s difficult to understand what people are saying and not feeling like you’re fully part of any conversation is so isolating, and it doesn’t need to continue.
If you find it hard to even hear loud noises, such as shouting, loud music, or loud vehicles, then OTC devices will not help you much.
When Professional Care Is Vital
My biggest concern with people not getting their hearing checked professionally is that they might have a serious medical issue going on that will not be diagnosed and treated.
While many people with a hearing loss have it because of the aging process, some others might be less able to hear well because of inflammation, a growth, head trauma, or the effects of drugs they have been prescribed for other medical problems.
Thanks to my many years of medical training and work experience, I know what to look for and when to refer you to a specialist.
Even if you think you can’t afford hearing aids, please don’t neglect coming in for a comprehensive hearing consultation. I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but it could save your life.
Buying an OTC Device vs. Buying a Bundled Hearing Care Package
The biggest difference between buying an OTC device and buying a hearing care package is in the services you get with it.
Most people don’t realize that when you buy hearing aids from a hearing center like mine, the price includes everything you need to make sure the hearing aids are exactly what works for you and that they stay that way, along with all of your hearing healthcare needs.
A clearer way of explaining this is with a table.
|OTC Device||Bundled Hearing Care|
|Cheaper||Can be costly, but the included services explain its value|
|A quick purchase||Takes time to get every aspect of it right|
|No maintenance plan or hearing care||Full maintenance plan and ongoing hearing care|
|No hearing test – doesn’t find or treat the cause of hearing loss||Fully comprehensive hearing test that can find the cause of your hearing loss and treat it properly|
|Can be the right option for specific hearing symptoms – often adequate for mild hearing loss||Will be the perfect choice for your type of hearing loss, even severe loss|
|Will have the same basic functions of today’s hearing aids – limited options and features||Multiple brands and models with multiple options to fit with your lifestyle|
|No fitting – hearing aid might be very uncomfortable worn||Professional ear fitting(s) to ensure the hearing aid is comfortable|
|No support||Ongoing, local, in-person, and phone support|
|Not covered by insurance||I work with many insurance companies.|
|Might further damage your hearing by amplifying the wrong sounds too much, difficult to program correctly||I make sure the settings are precise for your type of hearing loss and lifestyle.|
Partnering with South Sound Audiology
My greatest motivation is seeing my patients enjoy a more active, rewarding, and independent lifestyle due to better hearing.
If I think an OTC device will be the best fit for your hearing and lifestyle, along with your budget, I’ll certainly recommend this over another option.
I want to help you overcome your hearing challenges so you can live an independent, rewarding, and active lifestyle. Everything I recommend will be with your best interest at heart.
Come see me, or call me with any questions you have about any type of hearing device for yourself or a loved one.
I look forward to helping you.