Over-the-counter (OTC) Hearing Aids: Are They Right For Me?

Lately there has been so much talk about over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. How do you know if OTC hearing aids are an option for you?

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Over-the-counter (OTC) Hearing Aids: Are They Right For Me?

Lately there has been so much talk about over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. How do you know if OTC hearing aids are an option for you? OTC hearing aids are not yet FDA approved but once they become available there are some important things to consider before you decide if they are right for you.

First, there is growing evidence that indicates that OTC hearing aids are only appropriate for mild hearing loss. This means that anyone with moderate to profound hearing loss will not benefit from them. For example, if you have trouble hearing conversations even in quiet settings or miss loud sounds like cars honking when you drive or announcements in public buildings, your hearing loss is more severe than OTC hearing aids are designed to address [1]. Instead, prescription hearing aids are recommended for those with moderate to profound hearing loss. These hearing aids have tools to manage your hearing loss in a way that is able to provide the best quality of hearing possible.

In addition, without adequate audiologic management, the OTC hearing aids may not be utilized consistently which can lead to auditory deprivation [2]. Auditory deprivation is the result of your brain being deprived of sound, which can lead to difficulty processing sounds even after you begin wearing hearing aids. An audiologist can evaluate ear anatomy, determine your hearing comfort and discomfort levels, assess manual dexterity, perform communication rehabilitation, and ensure verification of fitting. Working with an audiologist allows for the highest level of hearing satisfaction [3].

Last but not least, another thing to consider is that purchasing an OTC hearing aid does not require you to have a hearing test. While this may seem like a convenience, diagnostic hearing testing is extremely important when it comes to not only diagnosing a hearing loss but also ruling out potentially serious medical conditions. Without diagnostic testing, true medical issues can be missed such as Meniere’s disease, otitis media, cholesteatoma, acoustic neuroma, and sudden hearing loss[4].

We strongly recommend having a diagnostic hearing test before deciding about hearing aids, whether they are OTC or prescriptive. You can always call our office at 773-777-3277 with any questions. You can also call to schedule an appointment for a hearing test or for an evaluation to get our audiologist’s recommendation on what would be best for your individual hearing health!


[2] Campbell J, Sharma A (2014) Cross-modal re-organization in adults with early stage hearing loss. Plos One. 9(2):e90594.Published 2014 Feb 28. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090594

[3] Bentler R, Flexer C, Leavitt R. (2018,December 12). Evaluating Select Personal Sound Amplifiers and a Consumer-Decision Model for OTC Amplification. The Hearing Review,

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About North Side Audiology

North Side Audiology Group is a leader in audiological care specializing in the treatment of hearing loss. Services include comprehensive hearing evaluations, hearing aid fittings & programming, hearing loss rehabilitation and more.

Monday-Friday: 8:30am-4:30pm
Saturday: 9:00am-1:00pm

Our practice is conveniently located on the North Side of Chicago at 4200 W. Peterson Avenue, Suite 100.

(773) 777-3277