National Enquirer



LISTEN up! Hearing aids are now available over the counter — at cheaper prices than prescripti­on-only versions. But experts warn there may be drawbacks.

Until recently, individual­s needed a formal hearing assessment before being prescribed an aid, but the OTC products require no ear exam, hearing test or fitting session. However, medical profession­als caution the shortcut could backfire! “Patients may have a chronic infection or condition requiring medical or surgical management rather than a hearing aid,” says University of Virginia professor Bradley Kessler. “And for those who would benefit from an OTC product, not every hearing aid fits every ear.”

That could lead to patients incorrectl­y deciding hearing aids won’t work for them and not getting the help they need, say experts. About 37.5 million American adults have trouble hearing, including one in three aged between 65 and 74 and half of those older than 75 — and the impairment can have serious consequenc­es! “Patients with hearing loss often withdraw socially and become isolated,” explains Kessler. “Studies show hearing loss is associated with depression and cognitive impairment.”

The newly approved OTC aids are designed for adults older than 18 who have mild to moderate hearing loss.

You might have hearing loss if you often ask people to repeat themselves, feel others are mumbling, have trouble hearing against background noise or people complain you turn the TV up too loud.

Costs for the OTC devices can range from $99 for a single no-frills aid to $1,600 for a pair — still far below the average cost of $4,600 for a prescripti­on device. Experts advise investigat­ing simple causes of hearing loss such as wax buildup before purchasing an OTC aid — and don’t give up if the item doesn’t work. “A hearing specialist can decipher the hearing loss and recommend appropriat­e treatment,” says Kessler.

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