Are OTC aids right for you?

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The FDA has authorized a new category of hearing aids that can be self-fit and sold over the counter (OTC) without any testing or prescription.

By Mary Malik

There’s been some breaking news in the field of hearing health. The FDA has authorized a new category of hearing aids that can be self-fit and sold over the counter (OTC) without any testing or prescription. Dr. Sarah Curtis, Au.D., founder of Sounds of Life Hearing, is supportive when applied appropriately.

“As a doctor of audiology and in the interest of public health and the importance of early intervention for hearing loss, OTC hearing aids can be a way to get some people into hearing aids earlier or at all,” says Dr. Curtis. “Only 20 to 30% of adults with hearing loss in the U.S. get hearing aids and often wait five to seven years after beginning to experience hearing difficulties.”

If you’re having trouble hearing, Dr. Curtis does recommend first getting a diagnostic hearing evaluation from an audiologist and to be wary of ads for “free” hearing tests.

“This might signify that only the sale of hearing aids holds value,” says Dr. Curtis. “Any healthcare-focused audiologist should be paid for their knowledge and skills.”

Dr. Curtis intends to recommend OTC hearing aids when appropriate and feels that it is a better first-time-user option for people with the following qualifications:

  1. Healthy (physically and cognitively).
  2. Over age 18.
  3. No more than mild to moderate hearing loss.
  4. Equal hearing loss in both ears.

Dr. Curtis advises avoiding OTC under the following circumstances:

  1. Tinnitus (noises in the ears).
  2. Any atypical ear/hearing/balance symptoms.
  3. Hearing loss significantly impacting quality of life.

Sounds of Life Hearing Center is located at 8007 Auburn Road, Suite 1 in Mentor. For more information call 440-579-4085 or check the website SoundsOfLifeHC.com.