OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – New FDA approved over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids hit the shelves last year for older Americans experiencing hearing loss.

Officials say the OTC hearing aids can be found at pharmacies, consumer electronic stores or online without needing a hearing exam, prescription, or appointment. OTC hearing aids normally cost $1,600 per pair, which is nearly $3,000 less than the average cost of prescribed hearing aids.

Get your hearing checked

According to Savvy Senior, the first step to getting hearing aids is to get your hearing checked. OTC hearing aids are helpful to those experiencing mild to moderate hearing loss like trouble hearing speech in noisy places, in groups and during phone calls.

It is encouraged that you get checked through a hearing care provider like an audiologist. An in-person test is normally covered by private medical insurance and Medicare now pays for general hearing evaluations without a referral. There are also app-based hearing tests like Mimi or SonicCloud.

Officials say if you’re experiencing signs of severe hearing loss like being unable to hear spoken words in a quiet area or problems hearing loud music, OTC hearing aids are not recommended. You are encouraged to get prescription hearing aids through an audiologist.

Choosing an OTC hearing aid

If you believe an OTC hearing aid may help you, Savvy Senior has some tips to help you decide on the best one for you.

There are two types of OTC hearing aids: self-fitting and preset. Self-fitting aids normally use a smartphone app to setup and adjust to suit your needs. Self-fitting can be very helpful for seniors who are familiar with technology. Preset hearing aids are simpler to setup as they come with numerous set programs for various levels of hearing loss, and the controls are on the aid itself.

It is important to know the amount of customer service you will have access to. OTC aids can take some getting used to so before you make your purchase, ask how long the company offers support after the purchase is made, and who will be offering the support.

Savvy Senior says its also important to know the company’s return policy. It can take a couple of weeks to get comfortable with your new hearing aids and to decide if they work for you or not. It is recommended to choose a company that provides minimum 30-day free trial or money back return policy.

OTC hearing aid options

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) has compiled a list of the best OTC hearing aids and developed a team to test the hearing aids. After spending more than 5,000 hours researching, testing and interviewing customers, they created a list OTC hearing aids for 2023 based on their nine categories.

For more information, visit NCOA.org.