Should You Buy OTC Hearing Aids?

With the landmark decision of the FDA to approve Over-The-Counter (OTC) hearing aid sales without a prescription to consumers suffering from mild to moderate hearing loss, it’s imperative to remember one important question, how does someone know they’re suffering with mild to moderate hearing loss?

While any consumer, starting in October 2022, can buy an OTC hearing aid without a hearing exam, the critical element to remember is that OTC retailers can only sell a device, that’s it.

OTC retailers are not doctors and do not have to be licensed to sell an OTC. They cannot perform hearing exams or offer alternative treatments should a consumer be suffering from something more severe than mild to moderate hearing loss. OTC retailers do not offer long term care in the form of clean and checks, and because OTCs are designed for a “one size fits all” model, they cannot provide any customization for a consumers particular hearing care requirements.

OTCs are a transactional operation relying on the due diligence of the end consumer to fully understand the complexity of their potential hearing loss and subsequent hearing care needs.

All that being said, the emergence of OTCs makes the need for highly trained and skilled audiologists, like those at Elite Hearing of Colorado Springs that much more relevant. Audiologists are health care professionals who diagnose, manage, and treat hearing, balance, or other additional ear problems, for their patients. Audiologists determine the severity and type of hearing loss a patient has and develop a plan for treatment. Audiologists counsel patients, manage hearing loss prevention programs, assist patients with the management of tinnitus, and can design educational plans for patients of all ages.

Audiologists can even help determine if a hearing device is necessary for a patient. Audiologists can diagnose, treat, or make referrals to fellow physicians when it comes to inner ear related issues such as ear wax build up, fluid behind the eardrum, sinus infections or ear infections.

Dear Dr. Kovel,

I can hardly believe that it has been a year since I started wearing the hearing aids that you set me up with.  Their performance has exceeded my hopes, and I just wanted to say thank-you for all the effort your team put into working out all the details with my insurance.  I know this took a lot of work and patience on you part.  As far as the actual devices go, after about a month of getting used to wearing them and learning a few tweaks, wearing them has become second nature.  There is nothing severe or startling about the enhancement; I simply don’t find myself having to ask people to repeat themselves all day.  I’ll go for a walk in the woods, and all of the sudden I’ll realize that I can hear the birds doing their thing… pretty cool!  Where the impact has been greatest for me has been when listening to music.  The subtle sonic phenomena like timber and depth are there again, and that has made a profound difference in how I experience high fidelity sound reproduction.  I’m glad I had the sense to listen to your advice and recommendations.  There is so much more to effectively treating hearing loss than all the hype in the media would have us believe.  You are clearly an expert technically at what you do, and I appreciate the education you gave me about how to treat hearing loss, and the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches.  It’s just as clear that you care a great deal about your patients, and finding ways to optimize their care.  Technical expertise combined with a genuine sense of compassion – for me that’s how a person earns the privilege to be called ‘Doctor’…. Bravo!  I’ll see you soon for a tune up.


Robert S.

The thing that defines Elite Hearing of Colorado Springs as a premiere audiology practice in our area, is our ability to provide quality patient experiences. Our relationships with our patients are a long-term commitment that we continue to acknowledge and understand and adapt to our specific patients’ needs. We stay up to date with the latest technological developments and share them with your patients with the intent of improving your lives. We remain steadfast in our pursuit of treating our patients like family while providing a bespoke patient experience.