The FDA recently approved over-the-counter hearing aids and they could become available in stores as early as mid-October.
The devices are for people with mild to moderate hearing loss and will not require a prescription. Hearing specialists would prefer to see everyone in their office to properly diagnose hearing loss and find the most effective treatments or hearing aids.
Around 80% of people with hearing loss haven’t done anything to try and improve it. Making hearing aids more accessible could help change that.
Dr. Sarah Sydlowski is the Cleveland Clinic Audiology Director.
“We have been anticipating the release of these regulations for probably six years, maybe a little bit longer. It’s something that came on to the radar of legislators and regulators quite a long time ago, and the focus has been on improving accessibility and affordability of hearing care,” Sydlowski said.
Sydlowski said over-the-counter hearing aids are designed for those 18 and older with perceived mild or moderate hearing issues. No medical exam or prescription is required.
“I think over-the-counter devices are going to be a wonderful option for people who aren’t ready to take that big step to fully understand their hearing loss or to see an audiologist in order to have a prescription device programmed,” Sydlowski said.
She also hopes the devices will serve as a gateway for people to consider seeking additional help.
“This will be a great way for people to maybe have an entry point and then when they’re having more difficulty or the device isn’t benefit they need, they can come see an audiologist,” Sydlowski said.
If you’re willing and able, Sydlowski still recommends seeing an audiologist for a hearing test so you can learn more about the type of hearing difficulties you may have.