The rise of over-the-counter hearing aids

Back in August of 2022, the FDA finalized a rule that greatly expanded access to hearing aids by allowing individuals with mild-to-moderate hearing loss to purchase hearing aids over the counter. Legislation and policies surrounding this topic had been in the works for years, and it is thought that this expansion of access will lead to more people seeking help for their hearing loss. 

But, hearing loss and treatment of hearing loss are still very complex, and there are a few reasons why it may still be better to see a hearing care professional to diagnose and treat your hearing loss. 

Why see a licensed provider for your hearing care needs?

We won’t argue that there’s certainly a place and time for OTC hearing aids. In fact, we’ve developed our own OTC hearing aid that can be purchased online or at your local Beltone Tristate practice! But, in most cases, working with an experienced hearing care provider is still the best choice for those experiencing hearing loss, and there are a few major reasons why.

1) Diagnosing the underlying cause of hearing loss requires a professional

If you’re experiencing hearing loss, you can probably recognize the signs and symptoms yourself. Maybe you’re noticing that it’s getting harder to hear your loved ones during conversations or you’re having to turn the television volume up much higher recently. But, what’s harder for an untrained person to do is diagnose the underlying cause of hearing loss – of which there are many! 

From conductive hearing loss most often caused by an infection or physical blockage to sensorineural hearing loss most often caused by illness, aging, or exposure to loud noise, only a hearing care provider can tell you what is causing your hearing loss and whether or not there’s a larger issue that must be treated in conjunction with a hearing aid.

On the flip side, many people who experience hearing loss may not even realize it until it’s too late. These folks probably won’t seek out hearing aids at all, and so seeing a provider who can conduct an exam and hearing test is the only way to know if they have hearing loss that requires treatment.

2) Hearing aids are not “one-size-fits-all” 

There’s a reason that OTC hearing aids are only recommended for milder cases of hearing loss, and the reason is that OTC hearing aids are not as customizable as one you’d get from a prescribing provider. 

No two people experience hearing loss the same way, and ear shape, ear size, and severity of hearing loss varies from person to person, making it harder for a single device size, style, and technology to properly treat every person’s unique case. 

When you are prescribed a hearing aid by a hearing care provider, they can work with you to determine the best type of device for your situation and lifestyle to ensure you’re getting the best device for you and your hearing. They are also available to you through the process of fitting, adjusting, and testing your devices and can make changes to your device as needed to ensure they fit and work well for you. Your provider is just as invested in your hearing care as you are, and that’s important during such a big change! 

3) OTC hearing aids cannot treat severe cases

With their one-size-fits-all approach, OTC hearing aids are not recommended for those with more severe hearing loss, and going through a provider and getting a prescription device is the safest way to go for these folks. 

Along those same lines, without an exam and hearing test, it can be hard to know when your hearing loss becomes severe and an OTC device simply won’t work for you. So, starting with a hearing test should be the first step in anyone’s journey to treating their hearing loss. 

Why Beltone Tristate?

Beltone Tristate has been serving communities in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, and Tennessee for over 60 years, so we know a thing or two about helping folks manage their hearing loss. People come to us for that deep level of expertise in hearing care along with our team of providers and specialists and our initial free hearing tests. 

Our patients also love their Beltone hearing aids and the experience of working with our providers to customize their devices to fit their unique needs and lifestyle. One-size-fits-all just doesn’t work when it comes to your hearing! 

If you’re ready to learn more about Beltone Tristate, you can book your free hearing test or check out our online storefront for a wide array of products designed to help hearing aid wearers thrive.