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The FDA recently approved the selling of "over the counter" hearing aids: Here's what you need to know

OTC hearing aids have been approved by the FDA, and hearing health specialists want to share what those with hearing loss need to know.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The FDA recently approved the selling of "over the counter" hearing aids. Almost 30 million adults in the US have some form of hearing loss. And this approval may make hearing aids more affordable and accessible. 

Hearing health professionals share about what those with hearing loss need to know.

Dr. Erika McCarty Walsh, Director of the Otology and Neurotology Division at University of Alabama at Birmingham, says, "traditionally hearing aids have had to be dispensed by an audiologist or other qualified professional. Now patients have the option of accessing that technology themselves."

Those over the age of 18 will be able to purchase this product without a formal exam. But licensed hearing aid specialists urge people to still get tested.

Zach Watson, the owner of Beltone Hearing Aid Center in Huntsville, shares, "there is a place for over-the-counter hearing aids, but what we recommend is that you do have your hearing tested by a professional to know if you fall in the range of being able to wear an over-the-counter or if you need to be in a more medical device."

Watson says Beltone's hearing tests are free and last about 45-minutes.

"It can also show off red flags where we may need to refer you to your medical doctor or an ENT for further testing that something could be wrong," Watson said

And medical professionals say hearing tests could locate concerning conditions like certain types of brain tumors.

Prescribed hearing aids are generally not covered by medical insurance.

"Many of us hope that this option of having over that counter [hearing] aids may drive down the overall cost of hearing health care for patients. And so that's actually a big pro of this technology," Dr. Walsh said.

These OTC hearing aids are meant for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. 

"Warning signs for patients are hearing loss, that's worse in one ear, tinnitus, which is ringing or head noise that's just present in one ear, dizziness, pain," Dr. Walsh said.

Beltone shares they'll soon carry the OTC product and local drug-stores may soon have them as well.

RELATED: Hearing aids will soon be available over-the-counter

"I know many of the hearing technology companies are working aggressively on having an over-the-counter option so patients will just have to keep their eyes peeled now that the FDA has opened the floodgates," Dr. Walsh said.

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