October 2023 marks one year since the FDA approved Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids (OTC). Despite predictions of disruption to the healthcare market, the devices have yet to gain widespread popularity.
The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) found that only 2% of those with hearing difficulties ages 40 and older have purchased the devices. Only 4% of people reported they are likely to buy OTCs in the coming year.
According to a recent poll conducted by ASHA, which surveyed over 2,000 adults aged 40 and above through YouGov, the primary reason behind not seeking professional help for hearing loss was the lack of perception that their hearing “was bad enough.” The second most common reason was that seeking help for hearing loss was “not a priority.”
The same study cited a lack of effectiveness, poor sound quality, and fit issues (too tight or loose) as the main reasons for OTC dissatisfaction. Some troubling findings found that only 16% of adults 40+ in this study could correctly identify that OTCs are for adults only and not for children. Nearly half of the respondents with hearing loss likened reading glasses to OTC products and were unaware that excessive loudness from an OTC device could worsen hearing damage.
The role of an audiologist is crucial, as 70% of hearing aid purchasers believe professional guidance is necessary before buying an OTC device.
Hearing loss is a chronic condition that requires professional monitoring. While OTC hearing aids can work very well for those who meet specific qualifications, further public education is needed on OTCs and their appropriate use.
Information obtained from ASHA https://www.asha.org/news/2023/over-the-counter-hearing-aids-otcs-1-year-later/