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Where Do You Buy Hearing Aids

Hearing aids use these parts to help pick up and amplify sound from your environment and channel it into your ear: microphone (detects the sound), amplifier (makes the sound stronger), speaker (sends the sound into your ear so that you can hear it), battery (provides power to the electronic parts). Some hearing aids have a volume control (increases or decreases the volume of the sound) or a program button.

where do you buy hearing aids

All hearing aids use the same basic parts to carry sounds from the environment into your ear and make them louder. Most hearing aids are digital, and all are powered with a traditional hearing aid battery or a rechargeable battery.

Small microphones collect sounds from the environment. A computer chip with an amplifier converts the incoming sound into digital code. It analyzes and adjusts the sound based on your hearing loss, listening needs and the level of the sounds around you. The amplified signals are then converted back into sound waves and delivered to your ears through speakers, sometimes called receivers.

Many choices of hearing aid styles are available, including the following: completely in the canal (A), in the canal (B), in the ear (C), behind the ear (D), receiver in canal or receiver in the ear (E), and open fit (F).

The following are common hearing aid styles, beginning with the smallest, least visible in the ear. Hearing aid designers keep making smaller hearing aids to meet the demand for a hearing aid that is not very noticeable. But the smaller aids may not have the power to give you the improved hearing you may expect.

A behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid hooks over the top of your ear and rests behind the ear. A tube connects the hearing aid to a custom earpiece called an ear mold that fits in your ear canal. This type is appropriate for people of all ages and those with almost any type of hearing loss.

The receiver-in-canal (RIC) and receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) styles are similar to a behind-the-ear hearing aid with the speaker or receiver that sits in the ear canal. A tiny wire, rather than tubing, connects the piece behind the ear to the speaker or receiver.

An open-fit hearing aid is a variation of the behind-the-ear hearing aid with a thin tube or the receiver-in-the-canal or receiver-in-the-ear hearing aid with an open dome in the ear. This style keeps the ear canal very open, allowing for low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally and for high-frequency sounds to be amplified through the hearing aid. This makes the style a good choice for people with better low-frequency hearing and mild to moderate high-frequency hearing loss.

Getting used to a hearing aid takes time. You'll likely notice that your listening skills improve gradually as you become accustomed to amplification. Even your own voice sounds different when you wear a hearing aid.

Your success with hearing aids will be helped by wearing them regularly and taking good care of them. In addition, an audiologist can tell you about new hearing aids and devices that become available. He or she can also help you make changes to meet your needs. The goal is that, in time, you find a hearing aid you're comfortable with and that enhances your ability to hear and communicate.

You can now buy hearing aids over the counter if you are 18 years or older. The FDA recently established a new category of over the counter (OTC) hearing aids so people 18 years of age and older with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss can buy one in the store or online without seeing an ear-nose-throat (ENT) doctor, or a licensed hearing health care professional (an audiologist).

You can also obtain hearing aids from a hearing health care professional (audiologist or hearing aid dispenser) if you prefer. These professionals can perform a hearing assessment and hearing aid evaluation. To find out if an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser is licensed, check with your local Better Business Bureau, consumer protection agency, State Attorney General's office, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, American Academy of Audiology, or Academy of Doctors of Audiology.

Consumers 18 years of age and older with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss have the option to purchase hearing aids OTC without a medical examination or an audiological examination. Even though a medical or audiological evaluation is not required for people 18 years or older with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss, you may consider having your hearing evaluated to determine the type and amount of your hearing loss before getting a hearing aid. In the audiological examination, the hearing health care professional will assess your ability to hear sounds and understand others with and without hearing aids, and to select and fit the hearing aids to your communication needs. If you have medical concerns about your hearing loss, you should have a medical evaluation by a licensed doctor, such as an ENT doctor, before purchasing a hearing aid.

Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are a new category of hearing aids that consumers can buy directly, without visiting a hearing health professional. These devices are intended to help adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. Like prescription hearing aids, OTC hearing aids make sounds louder so that some adults with difficulty hearing are better able to listen, communicate, and participate fully in daily activities. In addition, OTC hearing aids are regulated as medical devices by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

OTC hearing aids are an alternative to prescription hearing aids, which are currently only available from hearing health professionals, such as audiologists, otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat doctors), and hearing aid specialists. The hearing health professional fits you for the hearing aid, adjusts the device based on your hearing loss, and provides other services.

You can buy OTC hearing aids as soon as mid-October 2022 directly in stores and online, where prescription hearing aids are not available. You fit them yourself, and you may be able to control and adjust the devices in ways that users of prescription hearing aids cannot. Some OTC hearing aids might not look like prescription hearing aids at all.

OTC hearing aids are for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. They are not meant for children or for adults who have more severe hearing loss or significant difficulty hearing. If you have more severe hearing loss, OTC hearing aids might not be able to amplify sounds at high enough levels to help you.

Personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) are another class of amplifying devices that you can purchase without a prescription or seeing a health care professional. PSAPs are for people without hearing loss. They boost the ability to hear certain sounds in specific situations, such as while bird-watching. While the FDA regulates OTC hearing aids as medical devices for adults for hearing loss, PSAPs are not regulated as medical devices by the FDA.

OTC hearing aids are for adults (18 and older) who believe they have mild to moderate hearing loss, even if they have not had a hearing exam. You might have mild to moderate hearing loss if, for example:

Hearing loss significantly affects quality of life for tens of millions of adults in the United States and contributes to high health care costs. Untreated hearing loss can lead to isolation, and it has been associated with serious conditions such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, dementia, reduced mobility, and falls. Yet only one in four adults who could benefit from hearing aids has ever used them. Making hearing health care more accessible and affordable is a public health priority, especially as the number of older adults in the U.S. continues to grow.

Leading experts in science, technology, and hearing health care have been working with researchers, health professionals, and consumers to find safe and effective ways to improve access to hearing health care for adults. They suggested changing some regulations that studies showed were barriers to adults getting the hearing help they need. They also recommended that the FDA create guidelines and quality standards for OTC hearing aids.

A law established as part of the FDA Reauthorization Act of 2017 directed the FDA to create a category of OTC hearing aids for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. As part of this process, in October 2021, the FDA formally proposed a rule to establish the new OTC hearing aids category. Finalized in August 2022, the final rule allows hearing aids within this category to be sold directly to consumers in stores or online without a medical exam or a fitting by an audiologist. Hearing aids for more severe hearing loss or for users younger than age 18 remain prescription devices.

The major shift in hearing health care is due to a recent rule change by the Food and Drug Administration, which in August cleared the way for the devices to be sold in retail stores without the need for buyers to see a doctor first.

The move is being hailed as a win for those with hearing loss, which afflicts millions of people across the country, but experts say customers need to be cautious about what products they purchase as sales begin.

"I hate to use the words 'buyer beware,' so instead it's 'buyer be educated' about what you're doing, what your needs are," said Kate Carr, president of the Hearing Industries Association, a trade group representing hearing aid manufacturers.

That could include people who have trouble hearing in groups or on the telephone, who need to turn up the TV volume louder than others and whose friends and family say they regularly don't understand speech or ask others to repeat themselves, according to the nonprofit Hearing Loss Association of America.

People can still get hearing aids by seeing a doctor first, and experts say there are advantages to this option, such as being professionally fitted for a hearing aid based on your individual needs and having a doctor monitor the progression of your hearing loss. 041b061a72

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