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Cutting-Edge-Technology- OTC Hearing Aid, the Eargo

In August of 2017, President Donald Trump signed into law the Food and Drug Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017. This legislation included the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act allowing over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. This Act enables adults who think they have a mild to moderate hearing loss to purchase OTC hearing aids without being seen by a hearing care professional, making access to hearing aids more affordable. The FDA will regulate the OTC hearing aids to ensure safety standards meet that of other medical devices.

 

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) posted an article, Cutting Through the OTC Myths, stating ASHA’s concerns with this legislation. ASHA indicates a hearing loss is a medical condition in which an audiologist should be involved in the individualized evaluation of the patient’s condition and fitting of selected devices. Furthermore, ASHA reported concerns with the legislation to monitor regulations the devices would not be sold, or re-sold, to youth under 18 years of age. The legislation allows individuals to self-assess the degree of his or her hearing loss, and the reason for it.

 

Hearing loss is identified as either: conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, or mixed hearing loss. Within the categories of hearing loss, causes may stem from medical conditions, induced from pharmaceuticals, obstructions, or resulting from loud noises. If one does an Internet search for “Online Hearing Test,” he or she will find several options. Many of the options are provided from hearing aid manufacture companies. ASHA suggests one seek advice from an audiologist or medical professional in regard to a perceived hearing loss.

 

Eargo, a new OTC hearing aid, claims to be an invisible aid unlike any other aid. It fits inside the ear canal, making it out of sight to others. The Eargo has Flexi Fibers that hold the device in place so that it floats in the ear canal. This design is not like most in-ear devices that fit firmly and fill the ear canal. The company claims these Flexi Fibers allow the bass (low frequency) sounds to pass through, and treble (high frequency) sounds to be amplified. This is said to result in a more natural sound. Additionally, the Eargos are rechargeable. This can be viewed as a boon to those who currently have hearing aids that need battery replacements. The company offers a 45 day money-back refund policy, and Free Sample (which I am thinking is the refund policy, but I could not verify unless I filed in the required fields).

 

Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs) might be another choice for some who need amplification. These can be acquired for a lower cost. According to the FDA, PSAPs are not considered OTC hearing aids, and should not be considered as a replacement for a hearing aid. In specific environments, they can accentuate sound. However, they may not be as versatile to provide amplification for multiple listening situations.

 

There are several articles addressing the “top-rated OTC hearing aids and PSAPs” if one searches the Internet. As with any product one desires to purchase, it is advisable to be a critical reviewer who researches the choices. Furthermore, make a list of when and where you experience hearing challenges to help you identify the best system for you. Some devices work better with cell phones, or with TVs, or in noisy environments like an open office setting. Remember to seek a medical evaluation if you think your hearing loss might be the result of a medical issue, and/or is having a negative impact on your quality of life.

 

Do you have any experience with an OTC hearing aid, a PSAP, or a prescription hearing aid?

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Tags: Amplifiers, Hearing, PSAPs, aids, loss

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Comment by Adrienne Kleinman on July 24, 2018 at 5:31am

Erika, I had no idea that OTC hearing aids existed. Thank you for highlighting this--absolutely fascinating! I am interested to know if a hearing aid consumer prefers Eargo over the conventional model that they had been using. 

Comment by Nikki Abramson on July 22, 2018 at 9:56pm

You bring up a great topic and a topic that I don't know much about. Thanks for educating us about this. I would be interested in hearing more from those that use these services and those affected by this. 

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