Gold Country Hearing has talked in the past about the differences between prescription hearing aids and nonprescription hearing aids because of President Biden’s 2017 Executive Order to make the purchase of hearing aids easier and more affordable.

This order set the wheels in motion for the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act rules and regulations, which were written, refined, and fine-tuned again to where we are today: the FDA gave its final approval of the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act on August 16, 2022.

What This New FDA Ruling about OTC Hearing Aids Means

This ruling allows consumers to buy hearing aids at any store without the need for a hearing evaluation or hearing prescription from a hearing professional.

Hearing aid manufacturers that meet the revised requirements for hearing aids to fit in this category can have their products on the shelves starting on October 17, 2022. Over-the-counter hearing aids can then be purchased by adults to treat a mild to moderate hearing loss.

Those with a severe to profound hearing loss and children under eighteen will still need a prescription for hearing aids.

The Benefits and Downsides of Buying OTC Hearing Aids

The biggest benefits of being able to buy a hearing aid in a retail store or online is that the process is quick, and the cost is attractive. When you notice you can’t hear as well as you used to, you only have to slide your card and a hearing aid arrives at your door a few days later.

But then there are the downsides, and the main one is that without a proper hearing evaluation – one that includes a physical exam of your ear and a look at your medical history – you might end up damaging your hearing more than helping it.

You might also miss what your hearing loss could be trying to tell you – that you have a medical condition that should be treated ASAP.

AHSA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, agrees. While they are satisfied that the Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid Act ensures that the decibel output of these hearing aids is safe and that the hearing aid can’t be pushed too far down the ear canal, they can’t accept the risk of a person’s hearing not being treated safely.

A hearing aid will never be the all-in-all answer to a person’s hearing health. Only an audiologist is trained in every aspect of this, and only an audiologist can make sure that nothing important is missed when your hearing is checked.

Add to this the fact that once you buy a hearing aid, every step after that is on you – you have to fit it, adjust it to match what you think your hearing needs, learn how to get used to wearing it, and learn about all the features and how to use them best in different sound environments.

This limits your support to zero, which means you often won’t be able to access advice when you most need it.

Need help picking the best hearing aid for you? Get an audiologist’s advice.

Is an OTC Hearing Aid a Good Choice for You?

However, if you have a mild to moderate hearing loss, an OTC hearing aid might be just the device to help.

ASHA has published a checklist to help you decide if it could work for you. If you check any boxes in the red zone of questions, then an OTC will be a wasted purchase and you’ll need a prescription hearing aid and/or medical care.

patient hearing checklist

Consider Gold Country Hearing & Balance Your Support Team on the West Coast

Gold Country Hearing & Balance’s top priority is for you to have the best hearing care possible and for you to be supported throughout your hearing journey. We’ve helped thousands of people hear better, and we’re one of the highest-rated clinics on the West Coast for good reason.

We have a team of audiologists who have the expertise to treat your hearing loss with the most advanced medical care available, and we can diagnose any medical conditions related to your hearing loss and make sure those are also treated efficiently.

No online hearing test can match the accuracy of an audiological hearing evaluation, and you can book yours at one of our four locations for your convenience. This way you’ll learn exactly what’s causing your hearing loss along with the best treatment solution for it.

We work with all the top hearing aid manufacturers, and we will certainly recommend an OTC hearing aid if we find that it’s the best fit for your hearing needs, lifestyle, and budget. And with us, this is just the first step in how we can support you.

On your hearing journey, we’ll fit and program your new hearing aids and help you adjust to wearing them. We’ll also do yearly hearing checks to see how your hearing is doing, and will always be available to help you with maintenance, readjustments, repairs, and support.

Schedule a hearing evaluation today. And call us if you have any questions at all about your hearing:

Grass Valley, CA, 530-446-2392

Rocklin, CA,  916-496-3816

Sacramento, CA, 916-974-9833

Lodi, CA, 209-867-9558.

We’re here to help.

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Dr Kimberly Bonney Au.D.

Dr. Kimberly Bonney Au.D., graduated with her Master’s Degree in 2001 from CSU Sacramento and worked at a non-profit hearing center in Sacramento. She then began working as an educational audiologist in Placer and Nevada County schools where she found working with children who were deaf and hard of hearing to be very rewarding. After she graduated from Salus University with her Doctor of Audiology degree, Dr Bonney bought the first Gold Country Hearing location.

    Grass Valley, CA


    Rocklin, CA


    Sacramento, CA


    Lodi, CA