The FDA recently made hearing aids more affordable and accessible by creating a new category of over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. As a result, more low-cost, high-quality options are available to individuals to improve hearing loss.
Here’s what you need to know about the most affordable hearing aids and how to choose the best ones for your needs.
How Much Do Affordable Hearing Aids Cost?
The exact cost of affordable hearing aids will vary based on the model of hearing aid you select and the specific features included. However, it is possible to purchase OTC hearing aids for less than $1,000 or even less than $500.
Affordable hearing aids can provide significant improvement in hearing capabilities for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. Additionally, some OTC hearing aid manufacturers provide discounts and protection plans, making them even more affordable for those with limited financial resources.
Do I Need a Prescription to Purchase Affordable Hearing Aids?
No, you do not need a prescription, medical exam, in person hearing test, or doctor’s visit to purchase affordable hearing aids. Anyone who is 18 years old or older and has mild hearing loss to moderate hearing loss can purchase and benefit from them.
How Affordable Hearing Aids Compare to Expensive Models
Expensive models of hearing aids, also known as prescription hearing aids, are created for those with severe hearing loss. This is because individuals who suffer from severe levels of hearing loss need more advanced features in order to improve their hearing, which can increase the cost. Hearing aids for severe hearing loss also require a prescription and multiple visits to doctors and specialists, making them even more expensive.
But not everyone has severe and/or profound hearing loss, which is where OTC hearing aids can help. OTC hearing aids are intended for those with mild to moderate hearing loss and are known for being effective at improving hearing function. While they provide effective features, they don’t require any prescriptions or doctor’s visits and individuals can purchase them from direct-to-consumer businesses, making them much more affordable.
Who Should Wear Affordable Hearing Aids
As mentioned, OTC hearing aids are designed for individuals with mild hearing loss to moderate hearing loss.
Someone with mild to moderate hearing loss might experience one or all of the below:
- Trouble hearing conversations in noisy places and with a lot of background noise
- Difficulty hearing someone on the phone
- Feeling tired from listening
- Finding it difficult to follow conversations and hear people in group settings
- Needing to turn up the volume on the TV or radio, even if others say that it’s loud
Symptoms of severe hearing loss can include difficulty hearing loud noises and conversations (even in quiet environments). You might also find yourself reading lips as a result of your hearing loss. If you’re concerned you have severe hearing loss, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor and/or hearing aid specialists.
Which Features Should I Look For in Affordable Hearing Aids?
It’s no longer needed to spend thousands of dollars on hearing aids when high-quality OTC hearing aids are available for less than $1,000 and even $500. The best affordable hearing aids will include the below features:
When deciding which affordable hearing aids to purchase, make sure they are nearly invisible. Two common designs include Behind-the-Ear (BTE) OTC hearing aids, which sit behind the ear, and Completely-in-Canal (CIC) OTC hearing aids, which fit entirely inside the ear canal. Both types of designs provide a discreet appearance.
FDA Registered, Class I
OTC hearing aids that are FDA Registered, Class I means they are real hearing aids, are considered a medical device, and are generally safe to use when compared to higher-classified hearing aid devices. Other classifications might contain risks such as excessive amplification of sound or the development of tinnitus (a ringing sensation in the ears).
FDA Registered, Class I OTC hearing aids ultimately provide users with less risk of harming the ears and therefore an overall safer experience.
Background Noise Reduction Technology
Background noise reduction technology can be an important component for OTC hearing aids to reduce background noise and therefore, make it possible for individuals to hear more clearly.
The affordable hearing aids you select should have multiple settings for you to adjust the volume that best suits your hearing needs.
Rechargeable hearing aids use a portable charging base rather than batteries, making them extremely convenient. To recharge them, all you need to do is place the hearing aids on their charging dock at the end of each day and charge them overnight. This means you no longer need to worry about purchasing batteries, saving you both money and time.
Customizable Ear Tips
OTC hearing aids aren’t necessarily one-size-fits-all, which is why it’s important to look for ones that contain customizable ear domes. By having multiple dome sizes to choose from, you are more likely to find a fit that is comfortable for your ears.
Easy to Use
Affordable hearing aids should be easy for every adult to use. Nano OTC hearing aids can be turned on with just the push of a button and then placed in your ears. Then adjust the volume as needed and enjoy your improved hearing. Please note that it can take several days or weeks for your ears and brain to adjust when wearing hearing aids for the first type.
Warranties & Protection Plans Available
Affordable hearing aids should always include a protection plan or warranty option. This ensures your purchase is protected and provides you with extended coverage for things such as accidental damage, loss/theft, and enhanced support.
Where Can I Purchase Affordable Hearing Aids?
Unlike expensive hearing aids that require a prescription, OTC hearing aids can be purchased at several places, including:
Online: Many online retailers sell a wide selection of OTC hearing aids.
Retail Stores and Drug Stores: Many drug stores and pharmacies now sell affordable hearing aids that do not require a prescription. But if you have specific questions about these OTC hearing aids or want to speak with someone who specializes in hearing aids, there might not be anyone available to answer your questions. This is where it can be more helpful to purchase them online from companies that specialize in hearing aids.
Hearing Health Clinics: Hearing health clinics sometimes sell affordable hearing aids, however in most cases these hearing aids are expensive.
Hearing Aids vs. Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs)
Lastly, it’s important to understand the difference between OTC hearing aids and Personal Sound Amplification Products, also known as PSAPs. PSAPs are often confused for being affordable hearing aids, but they cannot treat hearing loss. They are intended for amplifying sounds during various recreational activities. Additionally, PSAPs are not FDA approved.
OTC hearing aids on the other hand are regulated by the FDA and are intended for improving hearing loss.
Is Nano an Actual Hearing Aid?
Yes. Nano Hearing Aids are real hearing aids and are considered a medical device. They are FDA Registered, Class I, which means they are generally safe to use when compared to higher-classified hearing aid devices.
Similar to other types of real hearing aids, the exact fit of your Nano OTC hearing aids will depend on which type you purchase. The Nano CIC Digital Recharge OTC Hearing Aids and the Nano CIC Recharge OTC Hearing Aids have ear domes that should be placed far enough into the ear canal so that the hearing aid is flush with the outside of your ear. With the Nano X2 Recharge OTC Hearing Aids and Nano Sigma Plus Bluetooth OTC Hearing Aids, the ear domes should be placed fully into the ear canal and the device should be placed behind the ear.