Adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss can now buy hearing aids without a prescription in the US.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a final rule to improve access to hearing aids in mid-August. Since October 17, hearing aids have been sold at physical or online stores and pharmacies without a prescription, exam, or audiologist fitting.
Hearing aids sold over the counter (OTC) are available to adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss.
The FDA estimates that improved access to hearing aids could lower average costs by as much as $3,000 per pair.
About 28.8 million US adults could benefit from using hearing aids, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders data shows. Among adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids, fewer than one in three (30%) has ever used them.
According to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), many people with hearing loss never get diagnosed or treated due to cost and stigma.
The HLAA said it hopes that OTC options will inspire some to take the first step to treat their hearing loss sooner.
“This is an exciting step, but it’s still important to remember there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to hearing loss. For many, a hearing care professional will still be a part of an effective treatment plan,” said HLAA Executive Director Barbara Kelley in a statement.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends seeing an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation before buying OTC hearing aids and regularly checking the hearing.
OTC hearing aids can be found at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, Best Buy, and other stores, starting from $199 to $799 per pair.