TAMPA, Fla. — It could be a game changer for millions of Americans who suffer from hearing loss. Starting today, hearing aids will be sold over the counter (OTC).
In Florida, it's estimated that more than 800,000 individuals are hard of hearing. Almost half of them live right here in the Tampa Bay area. And making hearing aids more accessible and affordable can really make a big difference in the quality of life for so many people.
Barbara Kelley is the executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). "It's important for people to know that over-the-counter hearing aids are for adults only with self-perceived, mild-to-moderate hearing loss," she said.
People who should consider OTC hearing aids might be having problems hearing on the phone, when there's excessive background noise, or for people who simply aren't ready to wear a hearing aid every day.
"We know that 48 million people have hearing loss and only maybe 25-30% of those individuals are actually wearing aids and so it's a great doorway to allow more people to experience the benefits of hearing," Janice Trent, vice president of audiology for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) said.
Most big box retail stores and pharmacies will carry OTC hearing aids. Kelley recommends that you read all the instructions and of course make sure you know the return policy.
"Because it does take time to get used to a hearing aid. Your brain has to adjust. Now sounds are being amplified so it's really important to try these devices," Kelley said.