Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids & PSAPs
More recently, due to accessibility and affordability, more people with hearing loss are purchasing Over-the-Counter and Personal Amplifier products instead prescribed hearing aids. Recommended for a specific demographic, OTCs or PSAPs may be a good alternative to assist those with situational hearing difficulty in minimal environments with competing ambient noise.
Unlike prescribed hearing aids, these devices will not require a hearing test or medical intervention from your audiologist and/or physician. That being said, the most significant disadvantage in purchasing these devices is that an ear disease can easily go undetected. Therefore, prior to purchase, it is strongly recommended to schedule a hearing test with a licensed audiologist to rule out the possibility of any ear pathology or condition.
Over the Counter Hearing Aids
Similar to reading glasses you can purchase at CVS, over-the-counter hearing aids are tailored for individuals with a minimal to moderate permanent hearing loss and will be available in the upcoming years. More affordable than prescribed hearing aids, the FDA has announced that these devices will be sold by such manufacturers as Bose and Eargo for persons over the age of 18. Best used for individuals with excellent speech understanding, they do not amplify sounds according to each individual’s specific hearing loss. Most styles will include a generic in the ear and behind the ear option that can be self-fitted and programmed by the individual wearer via the use of a smartphone.
Personal Sound Amplifier Products
Personal Sound Amplifier Products (PSAPs) are considered the first non-regulated, over-the-counter in-the-ear devices that were initially intended to amplify environmental sounds for those with no hearing impairment. Similar to OTCs, the success with PSAPs will be dependent on the severity of the hearing loss, speech understanding and the specific situations that you are having difficulty. In fact, recent studies reveal that less expensive devices may cause distortion with insufficient amplification, making the high end PSAPs a preferable option.