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Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids

Are they right for everyone?

Hearing is essential to our every day lives. We encourage annual monitoring of your hearing health to keep a watchful eye on changes. Getting the support you need early will ensure you maintain connected to those around you so you can Hear Better and Live Better.

There is a new category of hearing aids that are now available over the counter. This category will be a great option for many, but is not right for everyone. It’s a good idea to consult a hearing professional on your unique hearing loss and needs to guide you to the right solution for you.

OTC vs prescription hearing aids

OTC and prescription hearing aids have different features. Here’s a quick comparison.


hearing aids
No professional fitting or support provided
For ages 18+
No hearing evaluation is required
One size fits most
No state requirements for return policy
For perceived mild
to moderate hearing loss
Come with self-guided instructions


hearing aids
Hearing aid programmed and supported by a professional
For all ages
A hearing evaluation is required
Standard and customized options are available
Return policy is mandated by the state
For any degree of hearing loss; hearing aid is programmed to the individual hearing loss profile (audiogram)
Follow-up care and instructions provided by a professional

A hearing professional can help

A hearing professional has the equipment, training, and expertise to evaluate your hearing and communication needs. They’ll help you decide if an OTC hearing aid, prescription
hearing aid, or other solution is right for you.

Can OTC hearing aids help your hearing loss? Answer these questions to find out.

Untreated hearing loss can affect your overall health and quality of life.* See a hearing professional to determine the right treatment for your type of hearing loss.

Hearing health

Check all that apply to you:
I am younger than 18.
I hear differently out of one ear compared to the other.
I have had a sudden change in hearing in one or both ears in the past few months.
I think I might have a build up of earwax or something else in one or both of my ears.
I have taken over-the-counter or prescription medication that causes hearing loss in the past.
I have had chemotherapy and/or radiation in the head and neck area.
I have noticed drainage from one or both of my ears recently.
I experience pain or discomfort in one or both of my ears.
I have experienced balance problems or dizziness.

Hearing in different environments

Think about your hearing level.
Check all that apply to you:
I have good to excellent hearing, I do not have problems hearing what people say.
In noisy environments, I have good hearing, I can understand conversation.
In a noisy environment, I may have difficulty following or participating in conversations.
I have difficulty hearing a voice at normal volume.
I can only hear loud speech.
I can only hear a voice if it is directly in my ear.
In a noisy environment, I have great difficulty hearing conversations.
In a noisy environment, I cannot hear any speech.
I cannot hear any speech or loud sound.
*Statistic pulled from 2017 WebMD Healthcare Professionals and Hearing Aid Wearer Study commissioned by Starkey Hearing Technologies. WebMD does not endorse any products or services. Starkey and the Starkey Logo are registered trademarks of Starkey Laboratories, Inc. ©2022 Starkey Laboratories, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 10/22 FLYR4047-00-EN-ST

65% [of hearing aid owners] would definitely purchase a hearing aid through a hearing care professional even if an OTC option were available.

States where attorney generals are taking action

As proper regulations are finalized and implemented, companies are currently marketing unregulated, low-quality amplification devices as hearing aids. This has prompted more than 17 states’ attorney generals – both Democrats and Republicans – to warn consumers about these harmful products.

Click below to find out what your state is doing.

States not taking attorney general action

States taking attorney general action