What to know about over-the-counter hearing aids and audiology

Getting over-the-counter or prescription hearing aids, largely depends on the amount of hearing lost

Mgn 1280x960 60411p00 Zzywr

SPEARFISH, S.D. – With the soon to arrive over-the-counter hearing aids, there are a few options for people experiencing hearing loss and they might not know about their options.

On Aug. 16, the FDA issued a final rule which adds another category of over-the-counter hearing aids. These will provide a more accessible and affordable form of hearing aids.

Things to know about hearing aids:

Who might benefit from over-the-counter hearing aids?

People with mild to moderate hearing loss.

“The target audience for it is a mild to moderate hearing loss and terminology they’re using is ‘a perceived mild to moderate hearing loss,’ which is a little bit difficult because when you have hearing loss, a lot of people underestimate what their hearing is,” Dr. Felicia Beltman, Audiologist at Monument Health, said. “So they think they’re having a little bit of trouble when they’re likely having much more than that, and without a hearing test to diagnose that, you don’t know where you stand. So, that’s the difficulty with that.”

Beltman says people should know who the hearing aids are targeted toward, because if they aren’t working how originally believed they would, you may need to work with an audiologist.

What are the benefits of working with an audiologist?

“When you work with an audiologist, you’re going to get a diagnosis of where you truly stand for your hearing loss,” Beltman said. “A lot of people underestimate where they’re at with their hearing loss, and it’s probably more than you realize. Hearing loss happens so gradually over time that people think, ‘I’m having a little trouble.’ Then when they get their hearing aids, they are so surprised at how much they’re missing. So, when you talk to an audiologist, we will diagnose where that hearing loss is at.”

“The other thing we do is we would be able to fit you with that hearing aid, knowing that is an appropriate fit for you. Hearing aids sometimes take a little bit to get used to and so we can gradually help you get used to that hearing aid. We can help counsel on different communication methods and strategies for you. Sometimes with the hearing aid, it’s about where do you sit in a restaurant versus how the hearing aids programmed. How do you communicate with someone? Do they look at you? Do they turn their back to you? We can help with all of those things. So, we do more than just putting the hearing aid on you.”

How do they work?

Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids will be available to buy from online retailers or pharmacies/stores. The patient will program the hearing aid themselves either through an app or on a computer.

When will they be available?

Unless something changes, Beltman says as far as she’s aware they will be available Oct. 17.

Why protecting your hearing is also important.

“October being Protect Your Hearing, patients can protect their hearing by wearing hearing protection, either headphones or a roll up from earplugs. People will always ask, what’s the best solution? And I always will tell people, it’s the thing you’re going to wear, the thing you’re actually going to use,” Beltman said. “So if you buy something with good intentions, but it’s not handy to use, you likely won’t. And so get the thing that you’re going to use the most frequently and the most easily. And that includes lawn mowing, chainsaws, hunting and shooting is a big one around here. We find people [saying] ‘Well, it’s just one gunshot.’ One gunshot can absolutely damage your hearing. So being proactive.”

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Health & Beauty, Local News, South Dakota News