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Understanding No-Prescription Hearing Aids

hand hold one gray and blue colored non-prescription hearing aids

Hearing aids are expensive. In fact, they are the third-largest purchase in an older adult’s life right after a home and a car, costing an average of $4,700 for both ears. Fortunately, a recent FDA ruling has opened the way for no-prescription hearing aids, which are far less expensive than their prescription counterparts.

If you’re looking for an affordable way to improve your hearing without having to visit an audiologist, non-prescription hearing aids may be for you.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Are No-Prescription Hearing Aids?

Non-prescription hearing aids (also known as over-the-counter or OTC) are for mild to moderate hearing loss.

You do not need a medical evaluation or prescription from a doctor or audiologist to buy them. 

Unlike traditional devices, they are generally “one size fits all”.  In this way, they are not custom to your level of hearing loss. 

How Are Non-Prescription Devices Different Than Other Common Hearing Aids You Can Buy Online?

Many hearing aids available online are direct-to-consumer (DTC) hearing aids and hearing amplifiers (PSAPS). Even though these devices help people hear, the FDA doesn’t regulate them. 

Non-prescription hearing aids, on the other hand, are subject to FDA regulation. These types of hearing aids must meet certain safety, quality, and performance standards. 

Types of Hearing Devices You Can Get Without a Prescription

No-prescription aids often have fewer features than traditional hearing aids, but they still come in different models. Here are some of the most popular types. 

Behind-the-Ear (BTE)

BTE hearing aids are small electronic devices worn behind the ear. They come with various features. Features often include directional microphones and feedback-cancellation technology.

In-the-Ear (ITE)

These hearing aids fit inside the outer portion of your ear and are less visible than BTE devices. ITE models are available in various shapes and sizes to fit different ear canals. Some have rechargeable batteries, while others use disposable zinc-air batteries. 

In-the-Canal (ITC)

ITC hearing aids are custom-fitted to your ear canal and are the smallest type available. They’re designed to be discreet, with most people unable to tell you’re wearing one.

Completely-in-the-Canal (CIC) hearing aids, which are a variation of ITC hearing aids, are even more discreet.

Benefits of Buying Prescriptionless Hearing Aids 

one hand holding 3 non-prescription hearing devices

Want to know if no-prescription hearing aids are worth the purchase? Here are the benefits you’re signing up for.

Affordability

The biggest draw of no-prescription hearing aids is cost. They are significantly less expensive than their prescription counterparts, which can range from $900 to $4,700 per ear.

No-prescription devices cost an average of $1,000 per pair. This is much less than more advanced, customized hearing aids. 

Convenience

Unlike traditional hearing aids that require multiple visits to an audiologist or doctor, non-prescription hearing aids don’t need a medical evaluation or prescription.

You can buy the device online or at your local store without making a long appointment with an audiologist.

Safety

No-prescription hearing aids are regulated by the FDA, which means they must meet safety standards for accuracy and performance.

This ensures that the device you purchase is safe to use.

Disadvantages of Hearing Aids That Don’t Require a Script

Of course, non-prescription hearing aids come with drawbacks. Before purchasing, consider the following. 

Not for everyone

Non-prescription hearing aids are not suitable for everyone. They’re best suited for individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss. In most cases, they’re not suited for severe impairment.

No customization

When you buy hearing aids without a script, they are not custom to your individual needs.

While they may be adjustable, they won’t provide the same level of precision as tailored devices. 

No professional support

When you purchase non-prescription hearing aids, you don’t get access to professional support. Similarly, an audiologist does not help you. 

This means if something goes wrong with your device or you run into trouble, there’s no one who can help troubleshoot the problem.

How Much Do Non-Prescription Hearing Aids Cost?

The cost varies widely, depending on the brand and model.

Generally speaking, you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $1,000 for a pair of non-prescription hearing aids.

This is significantly less than the average cost of a pair of prescription hearing aids, which typically ranges between $2,000 and $4,700.

Where Can I Buy Hearing Aids Without a Prescription?

No-prescription hearing aids are now available from various retailers, including Amazon and Walgreens. Prices vary depending on the style and feature chosen.

In addition, some retailers offer financing options, allowing you to spread payments out over time.

Are No-Prescription Hearing Aids Right for Me?

No-prescription hearing aids are for mild to moderate hearing loss.

They are not for severe hearing loss which requires professional care and the use of a prescription device.

If you have any concerns about your hearing loss, speak to a doctor before purchasing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are no-prescription hearing aids and OTC hearing aids the same?

Yes, the terms are interchangeable. They refer to hearing aids that don’t require a prescription from an audiologist and are purchased over the counter (OTC).

Are no-prescription hearing aids amplifiers?

No. They are not amplifiers. Amplifiers are for normal hearing and make sounds louder.

No-prescription hearing aids, on the other hand, are for varying degrees of hearing loss.

Do you need a hearing test to buy no-prescription hearing aids?

No. Under the FDA ruling, you do not need a hearing test.

In most cases, however, we recommend testing your hearing before you purchase. Doing so will help ensure your hearing aids are suitable for your specific hearing loss. 

Are no-prescription hearing aids good for hearing loss?

It depends. The sound quality is worse than prescription hearing aids and they are not suitable for severe hearing loss.

Are no-prescription hearing aids FDA-approved?

Most no-prescription hearing aids are FDA-registered. The FDA has approved the sale of OTC hearing aids.