Over the counter (OTC) hearing aids are a fairly new type of device. Unlike traditional hearing aids, you can purchase them in store or by mail order, meaning almost anyone can get their hands on them.

While this may seem simple at the forefront — due to the convenience of accessing them — many people are starting to become skeptical about the impact they are having in the industry.

Not long ago, Attorney General Ken Paxton warned Texans “to be cautious” about buying them. The reason for this is due to the serious risk it can cause to those with an untreated hearing loss.

Hearing loss manifests itself differently from person to person, so a one-size-fits-all approach, which is the case of OTC hearing aids, doesn’t apply itself well. 

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The methodological process of acquiring the correct hearing aid instrument requires the expert attention from a doctor of audiology who has been training for many years.

Using a combination of methods, they can accurately diagnose the degree of hearing loss by using exact measurements of the ear in the form of a hearing assessment.

This Is Where The Problem Starts…

If you’ve ever browsed the different hearing aids online or maybe even seen them in your local pharmacy, you’ll be aware of how easy it is to get your hands on them.

As they bypass the need to see an audiologist or have a hearing assessment, there is a huge risk of danger to your hearing. It could in fact make it worse!

Hearing loss, if untreated, can present a range of complications, including cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and depression.

OTC hearing aids are purely just amplifiers, so they don’t work to stimulate your brain in the same way as hearing aids.

At first, the price tag may seem alluring, but months down the line you’ll pay the price of a cheap product.

OTC Hearing Aids Are Not Approved By The FDA

Yes, that’s correct! You may have seen some deceptively marketed over-the-counter hearing aids branded as “registered” when in fact they are not.

A lot of OTC devices are not officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as they contain very low-quality amplifiers which can be very dangerous for those with a hearing loss.

Why Should Hearing Aids Be Tailored To The Individual?

When it comes down to a daily worn item, such as hearing aids, you want to ensure you are receiving maximum comfort from your device.

OTC hearing aids are not custom-made to the shape of your ears, so there is an increased risk of irritation, loose-fitting, and poor amplification.

A big part of your hearing success is the process of expertly choosing the right hearing aid for you based on your listening preferences, lifestyle, and interests, so cutting this out will only lead to disappointment.

After being unhappy with their OTC hearing aids, they may start to think that all devices are inappropriate for them, which is our worst nightmare.

What Should Texans Do?

If you or a loved one has recently noticed a change in your hearing ability, then you may be considering the different options available – OTC hearing aids included.

Before making any quick decisions, we strongly encourage you to consider your other options and do your research, as your hearing health is too important to take any shortcuts.

The best thing you can do right now is to seek professional advice from an audiologist or a hearing care specialist.

From there, they will perform a hearing assessment and be able to tell you what your hearing requirements are for the technology available.

Before You Go, Remember These Tips When Purchasing A Hearing Aid:

  • Get a hearing assessment. It’s the best way to discover what technology is right for you.
  • Remember that OTC hearing aids are not FDA approved.
  • The Better Business Bureau is a great website to use to research the seller of hearing aids before purchasing. It includes reviews and endorsements with cautions.

At North Houston Hearing, we understand that sometimes making your decision can be hard.

Based on our many years of practicing, we have dealt with all kinds of hearing loss concerns and have seen the many changes in hearing aid technology.

If you’d like to talk to us about your hearing, the different options available, or simply want guidance, then you’re welcome to get in touch with us at 281-444-9800

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Dr. Lacey Brooks, CCC-A, FAAA - Doctor of Audiology

Dr. Lacey Brooks received a bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry in 2003, and earned her doctorate of audiology in 2009. She completed her clinical internships and residency at various facilities within Houston Medical Center. Dr. Brooks is a professional member of the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (AAA), a member of the Texas Academy of Audiology (TAA), and is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is also the vice president of the Louisiana State University Houston Chapter Alumni Association.
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