After years of rumors, it has finally happened.
A well-respected consumer technology brand, Jabra, has introduced an over-the-counter product that promises to be a solution to the millions of people with a mild-to-moderate hearing loss that are not yet ready to become prescription hearing aid wearers.
The advertising campaigns have started, and I’m seeing more and more comments on Facebook from people that have a hearing challenge, but who feel more confused to what to do than ever before.
That’s why I felt compelled to write this article to share my opinion on over-the-counter hearing devices and what I believe are the two big warnings that everybody should know (that hardly any of my audiological colleagues are talking about).
WARNING #1 – They Have Been Around for Many Years, they are Not New!
When President Biden signed the executive order to encourage competition in the American economy on July 9th, 2021 – he included:
“To promote the wide availability of low-cost hearing aids, not later than 120 days after the date of this order, publish for notice and comment a proposed rule on over-the-counter hearing-aids, as called for by section 709 of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (Public Law 115-52, 131 Stat. 1005)”
The problem is that it has resulted in people believing that over-the-counter hearing devices are something new. Yet the truth is, devices that are purchased over-the-counter that offer amplification and hearing support have already been around for many years.
They have been on the shelves of many stores and are available online;PSAP’s (Personal Sound Amplifiers) have been an option that offers amplification for those that need some hearing support in certain situations.
They are nothing new. The only difference now is that there is a lot of publicity, and some big brands are putting their names on such products.
WARNING #2 – They Will Cause Dangerous Delays
One of my biggest concerns is that these types of over-the-counter devices may delay people from receiving the professional help they need.
If the devices paint themselves to be the solution to a hearing loss, and/or delay somebody from receiving prescriptive hearing devices, then they will undoubtedly cause peoples hearing health to further worsen.
With hearing loss being irreversible and an untreated hearing loss gradually worsening, the speed of treatment is incredibly important from the moment you first experience a hearing challenge to when you are prescribed hearing aids.
Adding such a delay goes against all medial common sense!
With the messaging around over-the-counter hearing aids claiming that they’re for people with a mild-to-moderate hearing loss that are not yet ready to be a hearing aid wearer – it worries me that this may become an acceptable solution when we all know that it’s actually causing the patient more problems.
My Advice to You
If you believe that you or a loved one has any form of hearing challenge, then my advice to you, as a Doctor of Audiology , that has helped thousands of people to achieve better hearing is that over-the-counter hearing devices are not the solution.
To ensure my opinion is correct, I am closely monitoring, reviewing, and trialing all over-the-counter technology that reaches the market, and if I find a product that gives me the evidence to change my opinion, then I’ll be sure to report my findings.
I want to ensure that your long-term hearing health is the only thing that matters, and this means making a tough decision and making this rather extreme recommendation.
The hearing health of this community is what is at the core of our DNA.
If you have any questions, would like any advice, or would like to discuss your options, then my team and I are here to help. You can request a callback by clicking here or by calling us at 281-444-9800.