(WHTM) — People can now buy hearing aids over the counter at much lower prices.

More than 37 million American adults experience hearing loss, but Dr. Kevin Wentland with UPMC Senior Care says many of those adults do not seek help due to the cost or accessibility of hearing aids.

For decades, people could only get a hearing aid with a prescription, and they could cost thousands of dollars even with insurance. Now they can be bought over the counter, with some retailers selling them for as low as $199.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are a good option for those with mild to moderate hearing loss, Wentland explained.

“All of the over-the-counter hearing aids are basically amplifiers,” Wentland said. “If it is a gradual hearing loss that you noticed over time and it’s gotten to the point where it is impacting your daily life, it’s probably safe to go ahead and try over-the-counter hearing aids.”

However, sudden hearing loss is a different story, especially for people experiencing pain or other symptoms.

“If it’s a reversible condition, especially with sudden hearing loss, if you don’t see a physician right away — if you skip that step and went to the hearing aid — your hearing could get further damaged,” Wentland said, although the damage would be caused by the delay rather than the hearing aids.

Ultimately, Wentland said, “If in doubt, talk to a hearing professional.”

People planning to try an over-the-counter hearing aid should check out the return policy in case they want to test it out for a few weeks to see how it works.