Do you get nervous speaking in groups? Maybe you try to avoid phone calls for fear of embarrassing yourself?
Hearing aids are a necessity for many of us, but the price of prescription devices can be enormous, especially if insurance won’t cover it.
Luckily, over-the-counter OTC hearing aids like the OTOFONIX Encore are here to help!
Here we look at the 5 best OTC hearing aids.
Top 5 Over the Counter Hearing Aids
MD Hearing Aid Pro
Price: 199 + Free Shipping
MD produces the best OTC hearing aids you can find without an audiologist. They restore hearing to 80% of users and allow refunds for 45 days.
This hearing aid has both a “flat loss” option (for people that lose their hearing in all frequencies) and a “sloping” loss option for high-frequency hearing loss.
Britzgo Digital Hearing Amplifier BHA-220D
Price: $98.50 + free shipping
If you’re looking for the best cheap hearing aid for moderate hearing loss, let me introduce you to the Britzgo BHA-220D!
It might not have the world’s catchiest name, but this affordable hearing aid device has 4 frequency modes, various volume settings, and a whopping 500-hour battery life – you could easily go 30 days without changing the batteries!
The Britzgo is designed to be very simple and easy-to-use, with intuitive buttons for volume, settings, and power.
However, bear in mind that these aids are designed for milder hearing loss, not anything too severe.
Banglijian Hearing Amplifier Rechargeable Personal Sound Amplifier
Price: $249.98 (pair) + free shipping
You can also enjoy noise reduction and very little feedback, as well as intuitive setting and volume controls.
Empower Hearing Amplifier
Price: $539.98 (pair) + free shipping
The Empower hearing devices also come with advanced noise reduction, helping to pinpoint human voices and boost their frequency, making people easier to hear in various settings.
Pencil-thin and hiding behind your ear, these are also some of the most discreet hearing aids you can buy on Amazon, although there is no ON/OFF switch, so the batteries can get drained rather quickly.
Coniler Rechargeable Hearing Amplifier for Adults and Seniors
Price: $37.98 (pair) + shipping costs
There are 2 modes (noisy setting and quiet setting) which help to keep things simple, as well as 4 levels of volume to flick through, finding the perfect setting for you!
They’re not subtle, but they get the job done for a lot of folks!
Can you buy hearing aids over the internet?
Yes, you can buy hearing aids over the internet if you go to specialist companies such as Eargo.
However, if you buy hearing aids from websites such as Amazon, you’ll notice that the devices are usually called “hearing amplifiers” or “personal sound amplification products” or “hearing loss devices” etc.
This is because companies selling OTC hearing devices which are not FDA-approved are not allowed to call their over-the-counter products “hearing aids” legally, even if they basically are the same as prescribed hearing aids.
On that note, some online hearing aid companies claim that their products are FDA-approved when they are not, so be careful of false claims.
Currently, no OTC hearing aids are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This should change soon.
Are over the counter hearing aids any good?
They amplify common problem areas
Over the counter hearing aids are not individually tailored to each person’s hearing and frequency range like they might be if they were bought through an audiologist’s office.
However, OTC hearing aids usually have pre-made settings that amplify frequencies commonly lost as we age.
For seniors who are losing their hearing naturally due to age, most of their “hearing weak spots” will be the same, so OTC hearing aid devices are a great one-size-fits-all solution to the problem.
Best for mild to moderate hearing loss
OTC hearing aids are not designed for people with severe hearing loss, but they are perfect if your hearing issues are mild to moderate.
If you have trouble occasionally hearing people in conversation, these products might be great for you.
On the other hand, if you need to turn your TV up to the max to hear it, you need more professional hearing solutions.
Not as discreet as traditional devices
Most OTC hearing aid products are the RIC (Receiver In Canal) or BTE (Behind the Ear) style.
This means that they’re hidden behind the ear, but they may be slightly visible from certain angles.
If you’re looking for invisible hearing aids or in-ear hearing aids that are almost impossible to see, you need to go to a professional audiologist.
Nonetheless, the larger size of Over-The-Counter hearing aids tends to mean that they can house bigger batteries with bigger battery lives. They’re also easier to control and tend to sound more “natural” because they aren’t plugging up your ear.
Should I buy OTC hearing aids or go to a clinic?
Let me be clear – if you have severe or serious hearing loss, you should go to a professional audiologist for treatment.
When it comes to serious hearing issues, over-the-counter products are not going to help you enough.
FDA-approved OTC hearing aids are coming soon thanks to the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act 2017 which was pushed through by Senator Elizabeth Warren.
However, if you buy a pair of these cheap hearing aids and find that they do little to help, you might need to see a professional for custom-built hearing aid devices.
Nonetheless, if your hearing problems are mild or moderate, then OTC hearing aids can be a great way to improve your clarity of sound while saving a ton of money!
On that note…
What’s the average cost of hearing aids?
Price of traditional hearing aids
So, how much are hearing aids on average? Well, if you’re getting a pair of hearing aids through the regular route of an audiologist or hearing clinic, you expect to pay around $5,600 on average.
Most insurance plans don’t cover hearing loss, and even if you’ve got a good plan that does, the co-pay payments can still be in the thousands of dollars.
We don’t all have that kind of money.
There are around 20 US states that automatically cover the cost of hearing aids for their citizens, but this usually only applies to children, so it’s rare for seniors to get hearing aids for free (or cheap).
Price of OTC hearing aids
On the other hand, OTC hearing aids tend to cost a lot less, typically around $200-$500 on average for a pair.
Even the best over-the-counter hearing aids like the OTOFONIX Encore retail for around $600, which is still significantly cheaper than prescription hearing aid devices.
If you need to seriously reduce the cost of hearing aids and you have mild to moderate hearing loss, OTC products may be the answer.
Are they always sold in pairs?
If you’re buying hearing aids online, be careful to read the product description carefully!
Sometimes sellers only sell one hearing aid device at a time, or there may be an option to select a “pair” for a higher price.
They do this so they can advertise a low price for a single hearing aid, attracting people to click on their product.
A couple of the products on this list are advertised as single devices, so be sure to make sure you buy 2 if you need a pair.
Are my hearing aids FDA approved?
If you have hearing aids obtained through a hearing clinic or audiologist, they will be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
However, if you buy OTC hearing aids online without speaking to a medical professional, they will not be approved by the FDA as of 2020.
The Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 means that some OTC hearing aids will be approved by the FDA in the near future, but none currently are.
In conclusion, I think that the OTOFONIX Encore hearing amplifiers are the best OTC hearing aids on this list.
Their 53db of gain, advanced noise-canceling, and lengthy battery life give them the edge over the competition despite their higher price.
Nonetheless, I think that the Banglijian Hearing Amplifiers are a worthy runner-up, boasting the “Amazon’s Choice” label, USB charging, and hundreds of glowing customer reviews.
There are so many hearing aid brands and prices to consider, but I hope this guide has helped you to make the right decision as a buyer.