August 10, 2023

Over-The-Counter Hearing Devices: Frequently Asked Questions

General Health

Curious about over-the-counter (OTC) hearing devices? Here are answers to some common questions we get about them at our practice.

Do I need a prescription for OTC devices?

No, you can buy them without a prescription or a hearing exam.

Are OTC devices for everybody?

OTC devices are only for adults 18 and older with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. If you have severe hearing loss or are under 18, you need prescription hearing devices.

Are OTC devices the same as prescription devices?

One significant difference is that OTC devices are self-fitting, so you must adjust the device settings yourself. In contrast, prescription hearing devices are custom fit by a hearing professional to provide the right amplification levels for your hearing profile.

OTC devices also have a maximum sound output to reduce the risk of sound overamplification, user-adjustable volume control and an insertion depth limit in the ear canal.

Is it okay to skip my hearing evaluation and buy OTC devices?

Hearing loss can change gradually over time, so getting a hearing evaluation before purchasing any hearing device is always a good idea, especially since OTC devices are only for certain types of hearing loss.

Skipping a hearing evaluation also means that your audiologist won’t get a chance to check for any serious underlying medical issues causing your hearing loss, which could have long-term consequences for your health.

The bottom line? With OTC hearing devices, you’re on your own to make them work for you; with prescription hearing devices, you get comprehensive medical care and fitting expertise to help you hear your best. Have questions? We’re here to help—talk to our team today. Call Fort HealthCare Audiology at (920) 563-6667 in Fort Atkinson or (262) 473-8920 in Whitewater to explore your options and schedule a hearing evaluation or complimentary hearing screening.