(WHTM) — The FDA recently approved over-the-counter hearing aids, which could become available in stores as early as mid-October. Previously, prescriptions were required for hearing aids, but that is not the case anymore.
“We have been anticipating the release of these regulations for probably six years, maybe even a little bit longer. It’s something that came onto the radar of legislators and regulators quite a long time ago, and the focus has been on improving accessibility and affordability of hearing care,” said Dr. Sarah Sydlowski with the Cleveland Clinic.
According to Sydlowski, 80% of people with hearing loss haven’t tried to improve it, and the introduction of these over-the-counter hearing aids aims to change that.
The hearing aids are designed for individuals 18 and older with perceived mild or moderate hearing issues. Those interested will not be required to have a medical exam or prescription before buying them.
However, Sydlowski still recommends seeing an audiologist for a hearing test so you can learn more about what kind of hearing difficulties you may have as well as the various treatment options available.
“I think over-the-counter devices are going to be a wonderful option for people who aren’t ready to take that big step to fully understand their hearing loss or to see an audiologist in order to have a prescription device programmed,” Sydlowski said.
“This will be a great way for people to maybe have an entry point and then when they’re having more difficulty or the device isn’t providing the benefit they need, they can come see an audiologist,” Sydlowski continued.
Sydlowski notes more still needs to be done to raise awareness about hearing loss. Although it is one of the top three most common health conditions, a recent study showed only about 10% of older adults between the ages of 50 and 80 were able to properly identify what’s considered a normal range of hearing.