In October, 2022, the Over The Counter (OTC) hearing aid legislation was enacted. For the first time, it allowed hearing aids with certain characteristics to be sold without a prescription or professional involved in the process. Designer Audiology regularly receives questions from people — including patients — about these new devices, including their availability, cost, and features. However, there are a few steps that need to be considered before devices are purchased. Parts 1 and 2 of this blog series will separate the OTC hearing aid process to help you determine if you or a loved one is a candidate for OTC hearing aids. In Part 3, learn about some recommended devices that have been successful for patients.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that 15% of adults (over the age of 18 years) report some difficulties hearing and 1 in 3 individuals over the age of 65 years old have hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss (known as presbycusis) occurs gradually, and hearing loss can be accelerated by many things, including but not limited to:
- Noise exposure,
- Hypertension (also known as high blood pressure), and
Untreated hearing loss can affect cognitive health, lead to social isolation and loneliness, and increase the risk of falls. Treatment, including OTC hearing aids, prescription hearing aids, and/or cochlear implants, can help decrease the hazards of long-term cognitive decline and increase social interactions.
OTC hearing aids do not require a professional to obtain the device. Therefore, no audiologic testing, prescription, or medical evaluation is needed prior to making a purchase. Without an audiologist completing a comprehensive hearing evaluation, it is important that consumers rule out medical issues causing hearing loss.
The Consumer Ear Disease Risk Assessment (CEDRA), a questionnaire created by Northwestern University and Mayo Clinic Florida, is a good predictor of ear disease. Take the 15-item questionnaire online to determine if you or a loved one needs an audiologic and/or medical evaluation prior to purchasing an OTC hearing aid. If a score of 4 or higher is obtained, or if you have any questions or concerns about your hearing, schedule an appointment with an audiologist and/or your primary care provider.
Stay tuned for Part 2 and determine if your hearing acuity can benefit from OTC hearing aids.