OTC Hearing Aids

hearing aid Rochester NY

Advice for before you buy OTC hearing aids

Untreated hearing loss has been linked to depression, dementia, isolation, balance issues and falls. With the recent FDA creation of an Over-The-Counter (OTC) class of hearing aid, we anticipate that some people may choose this option as a first step.

While the best OTC hearing aids can help people with early-stage, mild, high-frequency, age-related hearing loss, they do have some significant limitations.  These limitations result in a re-purchase rate of only 20% by those who have tried them.


  1. A hearing aid is only one element and just the FIRST step in the ongoing process of restoring your hearing and communication abilities. 
  2. Self-diagnosis comes with the inherent risks of inaccuracy and misinterpretation, resulting in undiagnosed medical conditions (both minor and major), poor performance from an OTC device, and the possible risk of damaging your hearing further.
  3. Improved hearing requires so much more than simply ‘making things louder’.
  4. The sound quality you prefer is virtually never the amplification (amount or response) you need to maximize your communication ability.
  5. OTC device manufacturers have only been making such devices for over 5 years, while the major hearing-instrument manufacturers have been doing so for more than 75 years.
  6. OTC devices contain the most basic, entry-level sound processing hardware/software.
  7. You’re ‘on your own’ when there are problems with an OTC device.
  8. There are many high-quality, lower-cost alternatives made by actual hearing-instrument manufacturers and fitted by actual trained professionals.
  9. The adoption rate of hearing aids among countries where they are free is only 7.25% higher than that of the United States – so cost isn’t the real barrier anyway.

This would be like me buying myself glasses by just trying on different prescriptions and guessing. 

– S.F.

Understand exactly how OTC hearing aids and advanced hearing instruments differ – Learn More

An important thing to remember is that if you do not hear well with an OTC hearing aid, it does not mean you won’t hear well with a professionally fitted hearing instrument. 

The diagnostic testing, a careful review of your overall health/lifestyle/listening needs, a wide selection of hearing instrument styles and technologies, custom fitting, and verification available through an Audiologist’s office produce satisfied individuals whose hearing needs are met.

If your career or general life satisfaction is critical to you, seeing a licensed hearing professional is the first step to hearing at your best.

Links for more information:

NIH – National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders – Over the Counter Hearing Aids

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