What are OTC Hearing Aids?
Over the Counter hearing aids are devices that are commercially available for anyone to purchase without having to see a hearing specialist, and are often marketing as very low cost, “easy to use”, and comes with little, if any, features that are standard with hearing aids. They’re meant to be available for adults who have mild to moderate hearing loss, with no other hearing or ear health complications, and for occasional use.
Are OTC Hearing Aids a good fit?
Generally speaking, no. Figuratively and literally.
First of all, OTC are one-size-fits-some, and you may find that the large size is too big, but the medium is too small. Without a proper fit, it’s extremely difficult to maximize the efficiency of the hearing aid. No matter how good technology gets, if it doesn’t fit, it just won’t give you all the benefits.
Since you’ll be purchasing OTC hearing aids at the local big box store, you’re not going to get anywhere near the level of professionalism or knowledge that a hearing clinic is able to offer. They won’t show you how to use your product, how to maintain it, and once the purchase is made — that’s it. You’re on your own. Evear Hearing provides not only a fitting service, but also aftercare that follows up with you on your needs. We won’t leave you stranded with new technology that you don’t understand.
..But they’re more affordable, right?
That’s, unfortunately, another myth we’ll have to bust.
Even OTC hearing aids cost a substantial amount. Not only are they not that much less expensive than a prescription hearing aid, they also come with less or no features that most users find nothing less than essential. They’re not as durable, has a smaller battery and operating time, and not as well engineered to everyday life — remember, OTC hearing aids are meant for occasional use, such as when you’re watching TV, seeing a live show, or a holiday get together — but that’s it. They simply don’t stand up when compared even to the lower tiers of prescription hearing aids.
What if Cost is my primary concern?
A prescription hearing aid is absolutely invaluable. Not only does it win over OTC hearing aids in sound quality, service life, and being a better fit, they are also much, much more cost effective.
Yes, even the lower tiers.
Because OTC is designed for only occasional wear, they’re not built to last as long as prescription hearing aids. They wear out faster because they are made with less durable material and hardware. They aren’t designed to amplify specific sounds – such as human speech – and some OTC hearing aids are PSAP (Personal Sound Amplifiers) being marketed as hearing aids!
What’s the difference between a PSAP and a hearing aid?
Like certain occupations, such as a dietician or doctor, you cannot call yourself with one of these titles unless you have the necesary qualifications. In the same way, Hearing Aids are federally regulated as essential medical devices in both USA and Canada. PSAPs on the other hand are not. Anyone can put together a device and call it a PSAP regardless of its ability to amplify sound, but that does not make it a hearing aid! Hearing Aids are a protected term, and certain criteria must be met in order to bell something as a hearing aid.
What does this mean for OTC hearing aids?
Simply put, not only are you getting an inferior product that may be a mismarketing campaign from a PSAP company, but you’re also paying for a device that isn’t as durable, doesn’t deliver the right frequency or level of sounds (particularly human speech), are made with a much lower grade of hardware, and you’ll probably have to replace them very often.
A typical prescription hearing aid can last 3 to 5 years if it’s well maintained. A premium tier hearing aid can easily last 5 to 7 years. If your concern is how much hearing aids costs, you’ll want to account for the cost of replacement of OTC hearing aids — over the same period of time, you might be surprised to know that you would be paying less for a pair of premium hearing aids!
If you are still wondering if prescription hearing aids are right for you, give us a call and we’ll be happy to have a hearing specialist speak to you directly about what products can fit your needs the best!