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Montgomery County SHIP
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids (OTC)
Montgomery County SHIP
. https://medicareabcd.org/

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids (OTC)

<strong>Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids (OTC)</strong>

Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are a new category of hearing aids that consumers can buy directly, without visiting a hearing health professional. These devices are intended to help adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. Like prescription hearing aids, OTC hearing aids make sounds louder so that some adults with difficulty hearing are better able to listen, communicate, and participate fully in daily activities. In addition, OTC hearing aids are regulated as medical devices by the FDA.

OTC hearing aids are an alternative to prescription hearing aids.

You can buy OTC hearing aids directly in stores and online, where prescription hearing aids are not available.

OTC hearing aids are for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss.. If you have more severe hearing loss, OTC hearing aids might not be able to amplify sounds at high enough levels to help you.

OTC hearing aids are for adults 18+ who believe they have mild to moderate hearing loss, even if they have not had a hearing exam. For example:

  • Speech or other sounds seem muffled.
  • You have trouble hearing when you’re in a group, in a noisy area, on the phone, or when you can’t see who is talking.
  • You have to ask others to speak more slowly or clearly, to talk louder, or to repeat what they said.
  • You turn up the volume higher than other people prefer when watching TV or listening to the radio or music.

If you have trouble hearing conversations in quiet settings or have trouble hearing loud sounds, such as cars or trucks, noisy appliances, or loud music consult a hearing health professional. A hearing health professional can help you determine if a prescription hearing aid or other device can help you hear better.

Some ear problems need medical treatment. If you have any of the following, please see a licensed physician promptly:

  • Fluid, pus, or blood coming out of your ear within the previous 6 months.
  • Pain or discomfort in your ear.
  • A history of excessive ear wax or suspicion that something is in your ear canal.
  • Episodes of vertigo with hearing loss.
  • Sudden hearing loss or quickly worsening hearing loss.
  • Hearing loss that has gotten more and then less severe within the last 6 months.
  • Hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing) in only one ear, or a noticeable difference in how well you can hear in each ear.

Hearing loss significantly affects the quality of life. Untreated hearing loss can lead to isolation, and it has been associated with serious conditions such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, dementia, reduced mobility, and falls. Yet only one in four adults who could benefit from hearing aids has ever used them. Making hearing health care more accessible and affordable is a public health priority.

Leading experts in science, technology, and hearing health care have been working with researchers, health professionals, and consumers to find safe and effective ways to improve access to hearing health care for adults. They suggested changing some regulations that studies showed were barriers to adults getting the hearing help they need. They also recommended that the FDA create guidelines and quality standards for OTC hearing aids.


NIH Pub. No. 21-DC-8172
August 2022

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