What Are Over-the-Counter or OTC Hearing Aids? Where can you buy them?

You may be familiar with the term over-the-counter, or OTC, which just means a health related product that can be accessed without a prescription. It can simply be purchased ‘over the counter’. With the exponential rise in technology, our ears have become subject to higher volumes, for longer periods of time, than ever before. This damage has translated to

15% of Americans, aged 18 or more, are experiencing hearing-related problems. But, unlike with glasses, hearing aids have always been unanimously expensive until recent times. The introduction of a more economical ‘over-the-counter’ hearing aids category, by the FDA, has made treatment for hearing loss less of a  financial burden.

But, what does over-the-counter mean, why are over-the-counter hearing aids cheaper, and where can OTC hearing aids be bought? These are some of the common queries around over-the-counter hearing aids which will be addressed in the remainder of this writing.

What Are Over-the-counter Hearing Aids?

Also known as OTC hearing amplifiers, over-the-counter hearing devices are accessible without a prescription from a professional audiologist. This means that no proper hearing assessment is necessary to purchase these hearing aids. 

Well, you might be thinking, that doesn’t sound too good? It may seem like a pitfall, but these FDA approved hearing aids actually save the hearing impaired hundreds of dollars. Many of these hearing aids use an app, downloaded onto your smartphone, to take an online hearing assessment from the comfort of your own home. This is basically a free virtual audiologist. The app processes the results and calibrates your hearing aids accordingly. They are, however, only appropriate for mild to moderate hearing loss. If you suffer from severe, or profound, hearing loss you must visit an audiologist before taking any treatment

Why Are OTC Hearing Aids Cheaper Than Prescription Ones? 

Hearing aids are notoriously expensive but, with the emergence of OTC hearing aids, you don’t need to break the bank anymore to treat your hearing loss. As the FDA approves over the counter hearing aids, it’s important to note that they are just as medically safe and adequate for treating mild to moderate hearing loss as are prescription hearing aids. They are also incredibly cost-effective in comparison to prescription hearing aids; with OTC hearing aids averaging $1600 while their prescription counterparts average $4600. There are a number of reasons for this huge difference in price. 

For one, the electronics of OTC hearing devices don’t have as high a sound amplification ability as do those of prescription hearing aids. This means that OTC devices are limited and thus can’t treat severe or profound hearing loss. However, the majority of hearing impaired individuals suffer from mild to moderate hearing loss; thus, they don’t need all those expensive electronic components in their hearing aid. 

Secondly, OTC hearing aids don’t require additional service for their set up and maintenance, unlike prescription hearing aids. To even get your hands on a prescription hearing aid, you, quite obviously, need a prescription from an audiologist which doesn't come cheap. In fact,  a single hearing assessment by an audiologist can cost upto $250; not to mention the subsequent appointments for calibrating the device to your hearing needs. So, in addition to the $3000 hearing aid price difference, OTC hearing aids bypass the need of an audiologist to assess your hearing and program your hearing aids, which in itself can add on around $1000. 

This may raise a valid question in your mind:


Without An Audiologist, How Are OTC Hearing Aids Programmed To My Hearing Needs?

The answer is simple: a free online hearing test app. Hear+Hi, one of the leading OTC hearing aid manufacturers, uses an app which is downloaded onto a smartphone. This app connects to the hearing aid via bluetooth; and, by taking the in-app hearing test, the hearing aid is automatically adjusted to treat your hearing loss properly. The best part about such over-the-counter hearing aids is that any hearing aid adjustments can be made at your fingertips and free of cost. The app allows adjustments according to your surroundings, for ultimate hearing comfort.

Hearing Aids Controlled By Online Hearing Test App For Customization Of OTC Hearing Aids

The My Acuity App For Control Over Hear+Hi OTC Hearing Aids

OTC Hearing Aids Cost And Where To Buy

As mentioned earlier, OTC hearing aids are innately way more economical than prescription ones; but, within OTC hearing amplifiers, prices vary quite a bit. The price range of OTC hearing aids is anywhere from $200 to $2000. The price actually depends on the specifications of the hearing aid too; for example, wireless bluetooth hearing aids cost inevitably more than those which lack bluetooth capabilities, from the same provider.

Though OTC hearing aids are called ‘over-the-counter’, this doesn’t mean you have to physically purchase them over a counter. There are plenty of over-the-counter hearing aids available online too.

Best Over The Counter Hearing Aids, Rechargeable

Many people look for rechargeable OTC hearing aids, as it saves them from having to replace the batteries again and again. Plus, they’re more reliable in that you can be sure they won’t die in the middle of a super important meeting. These rechargeable over-the-counter hearing amplifiers use the best-in-class components and charging technology. Moreover, as they’re ITC hearing amplifiers, they are incredibly discrete too.

Invisible ITC Hearing Aids Available As OTC Hearing Aids For Mild To Moderate Hearing Loss

Invisible OTC Hearing Aids By Hear+Hi 

Now that you’re fully charged with information on OTC hearing aids, you should next select the best OTC hearing aids, in 2023, for you.


Are OTC hearing aids available now?

OTC hearing aids, FDA approved, can be bought off the shelf, as of October 2022. This comes after approval of OTC hearing aids by the FDA. Now, you don’t need a pricey audiologist’s consultation to purchase a hearing aid, but instead you can buy OTC hearing aids online and in a variety of retail stores.

Are off the shelf hearing aids any good?

Yes, they really are. Super easy to access and cheaper than prescription hearing aids, OTC hearing aids are a convenient way of treating your hearing without breaking the bank.