AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s been exactly one year since the Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids on Oct. 17, 2022.
With more than 37 million adults suffering from hearing loss, usually only 20% get treatment. That’s why the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, or ASHA, thought this move would be a game changer, until they did a survey.
“The polling results were a little bit underwhelming, with only about 2% of individuals actually going to get the over-the-counter hearing aids,” said Dr. Janice R. Trent, ASHA Vice President for Audiology Practice.
The national poll of 2,228 U.S. adults ages 40 and up also found only 4% said they are likely to purchase the devices.
“We hope that it’s related to under-education that people just don’t know about the over-the-counter hearing aids or don’t understand the importance of hearing aids,” said Dr. Trent.
Audiologists say choosing an OTC hearing aid can be intimidating or confusing for some.
“I think that when we’re talking about hearing loss and about hearing aids, there’s a lot that people still don’t know. So to assume that they can just go to the store, pick up a package, program it themselves, put it in their ear and manage it is a little bit much, but certainly, it’s possible. And certainly, in talking with a professional audiologist, who can give them some guidance and training, it is possible.”
Dr. Trent also pointed to a recent study on the long-term health impact of treating hearing loss.
“Let me just go to the most recent report that has just come out come out by the Alzheimer’s Association of international services. What they recently found is that hearing loss, if you get hearing loss on an individual early enough, you can actually reduce the risk of dementia. That is major.”
In August, a study found hearing aids reduced the rate of cognitive decline in older adults at high risk of dementia by almost 50%.
The FDA has put together a list of resources if you are experiencing hearing loss and need an OTC hearing aid.