Why over the counter hearing aids aren’t enough


GREENVILLE — Have you noticed more difficulty with your hearing, but feel that the cost is preventing you from getting hearing aids? You are not alone, and the price barrier is one of the top reasons why many do not move forward. In 2017, Congress passed a law that authorized over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. In 2021, President Biden issued an executive order that allows this to move forward. The goal is to provide low cost devices that will be available in drug stores across the nation.

Dr. Kylie Young, audiologist at Beltone Hearing & Audiology, states: “OTC hearing aids were created for individuals that have a mild hearing loss and fall into a “gray area” for hearing instruments. In other words, the benefit that they would receive from a hearing instrument would not necessarily outweigh the cost.” The only way to find out which area or degree you fall into is simply to have your hearing tested. If you have trouble hearing conversations in quiet settings or miss loud sounds, your hearing loss is more severe than what an OTC hearing aid can address. If you have a sudden decline or only notice hearing loss in one ear, then you need to seek medical attention immediately. These are symptoms or signs of possible medical problems. It is critical that individuals see a specialist that focuses specifically on your hearing and ears.

The probability of being satisfied with an OTC hearing aid is extremely low. Most research indicates that those who’ve tried an OTC device needed additional help from a hearing healthcare provider. Studies show that individuals who purchased OTC devices on their own, 90 percent purchased the wrong type or style based on their audiograms.

Chances of satisfaction are tremendously higher when an individual receives a hearing aid fitted by a hearing instrument specialist or audiologist. When working with a hearing healthcare provider, satisfaction ratings rose to 89 percent from 32 percent of OTC aids. Hearing Instrument Specialists and Audiologists can recommend which product is going to be the best fit for you. They can also identify underlying causes and any medical problems that might be going on.

Another item to be concerned about is buying hearing aids online. If you’ve done any shopping online, you will come across hearing aids that range anywhere from $30-$100. These are not hearing aids and are called PSAPs. These are known as hearing amplifiers and are not intended for individuals with hearing loss.

Ongoing studies show that untreated hearing loss can lead to the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s. This is because where we process speech is located in the Wernicke’s area of the brain. Right next to this section is where our memory function is located; when one section of our brain starts to decline, it can spread to other closely related functions. The longer you push off treating a hearing loss, the harder it will be to treat. You can either use it or lose it.

If you feel that you have difficulty hearing, call our office to schedule a free hearing screening at 937-548-4242. They offer a wide range of hearing instruments that fit every lifestyle and budget. They also work with many insurance companies to help you get the best hearing instrument.

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