Hearing aids are devices designed to help those with hearing loss to better understand speech and other sounds around them. Hearing loss can occur due to several reasons, including age, exposure to loud noise, genetics, or illness.

They work by amplifying sound and delivering it to the inner ear, where it is processed by the auditory nerve and sent to the brain. They are designed to improve the user’s ability to hear speech and other sounds, even in noisy environments. By enhancing sound quality and clarity, they can significantly improve the wearer’s quality of life, helping them stay connected to the world around them.

In the past, hearing aids could only be prescribed by audiologists who would conduct an examination of their patient’s ear and administer a hearing test. Late last year, the FDA established a category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss, to be sold directly to consumers without a need of a hearing exam or a prescription.  OTC hearing aids became available to consumers in October 2022. 

Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids

OTC hearing aids provide a standardized solution to hearing aid devices, unlike the customized alternatives that audiologists can offer. They are sold over the counter at pharmacies and various online stores.  The cost of a pair of these varies depending on their features and can range from $99 to $3,400. They are effortless to buy, easy to wear, and straightforward to use.

The objective is to increase the accessibility of them to a broader range of users. However, like most one-size-fits-all products, they can fall short of the effectiveness of their custom-made counterparts and are not typically recommended by audiologists.

Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids: Who Are They Best Suited For?

OTC hearing aids are typically suitable for individuals with mild hearing loss. However, for those with more severe hearing loss or a specific hearing condition, customized hearing devices fitted by audiologists are often a better option. Audiologist-fitted devices offer superior sound quality and clarity, along with customized additional features.

Can Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids Meet Your Hearing Needs?

While over-the-counter devices do provide hearing assistance, their quality is often slightly inferior when compared to custom-made assistive listening devices. Therefore, for a better fit and improved sound quality, it is more beneficial to choose audiologist-approved listening devices that can be accurately selected, fitted, and programmed to meet your unique set of hearing needs.

The process of fitting a hearing aid cannot rely solely on the equipment used, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A hearing aid that is prescribed for an individual is specifically tailored to their unique hearing test results and carefully tuned. While OTC devices can be adjusted to some extent, users miss out on the individualized prescription that would enable them to achieve their maximum hearing potential.

Additionally, OTC assistive listening devices lack the personalized sizing and individual guidance necessary for proper usage and maintenance. As a result, users may become discouraged when they do not achieve the desired outcome and may wrongly conclude that assistive listening devices are ineffective for them.

If you are uncertain about the severity of your hearing loss, it is advisable to schedule an appointment with an audiologist as soon as possible. As a general guideline, if you struggle to hear conversations or occasionally miss loud sounds, your hearing loss may be more severe, and it is crucial to undergo an audiologist evaluation and obtain properly fitted hearing aids. This will ensure that you receive a hearing aid device that is specifically designed to address your hearing problem and will provide you with the best possible outcome.

It is essential to conduct research based on factors such as price, severity of your hearing loss, and desired features to determine which option – OTC or prescription hearing aid – would be best suited for your needs.

Please schedule your hearing assessment / checkup with Southern Nevada Audiology today! Learn more about the advancements in modern hearing aids.


Author: Southern Nevada Audiology is a family-owned audiological clinic in Las Vegas, offering hearing aids, tinnitus treatment, and hearing protection for both adults and children, with a commitment to earning business through honesty, care, and compassion.

Southern Nevada Audiology
6061 S Fort Apache Rd #130, Las Vegas, NV 89148
(702) 990-1568