Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids: Frequently Asked Questions | hopkinsmedicine.org

The Food and Drug Administration’s recent rule has expanded access to hearing aids by creating a new category of hearing aids: over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. They can be purchased by consumers in retail stores and online and do not require a physician or audiologist visit before purchase. Although involvement of an audiologist is not required, people interested in OTC hearing aids may have many questions that could be answered by a professional. The Johns Hopkins Division of Audiology offers guidance in helping you decide whether an OTC hearing aid is right for you and how to choose one.

What are OTC hearing aids?

OTC hearing aids were implemented to help assist adults with a perceived mild-to-moderate degree of hearing loss and who may not need hearing assistance in every listening situation. An OTC hearing aid may help enhance speech and provide improvements in communication for people who are able to hear well generally but experience occasional difficulty hearing.

Devices traditionally known as hearing aids that are purchased through an audiologist are now labeled by the FDA as “prescription hearing aids.” OTC hearing aids have limited loudness output and features compared with prescription hearing aids. Both categories of devices share some of the same features, however the amount of customization, functions, and computer processing varies greatly between them. The variety, quality and functions of OTC hearing aids changes weekly as new OTC hearing aids enter the market.

Why should I see an audiologist before getting an OTC hearing aid?

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