URI audiologist reacts to OTC hearing aids now available nationwide

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Hearing aids are now the newest over-the-counter product now available in the United States. This was made possible by a 2017 law.

The  Food and Drug Administration recommends these devices for anyone 18 and older with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Audiology Clinical director at University of Rhode Island, Rachel Smith, said with hearing issues becoming more common, especially with younger populations using things like AirPods and headphones, this will benefit many.

“Approximately 14% of adults between the ages of 20 and 69 have some degree of hearing loss,” Smith said.

Smith said while the OTC devices have dozens of positives there are fears that consumers may buy these products without a specialist checking following up on concerns.

“This is a take it home, open the package, and see how it works kind of thing,” Smith added. That will be much easier for consumers to do with the astronomical difference in sticker prices.

Typically, hearing technology range from $2,000 to $8,000. Over-the-counter devices are going for as low as $200.

To learn more about hearing loss from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, visit nidcd.nih.gov.

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