Hearing loss (also understood as hearing impairment) can be caused by many factors: inheritance from the gene pool, acquired from illness, contracted after the use of ototoxic (ear-damaging) drugs, exposure to loud challenging noise, presence and growth of tumors, head injury, or the natural aging process.
With a plethora of causes, hearing impairment is one of the major challenges that affect Americans today (and as a matter of fact), the rest of the world with a frequency that is startling.
According to Hearing Loss, about 20% of Americans report some form of hearing loss or another.
Further, the statistics reveal that, about 2-3 children per every 1,000 born in the United States are born with a detectable hearing challenge in one or both ears.
By age 65, the statistics continue, 1 out of every 3 American Seniors is faced with hearing challenges and will need medical/technological assistance if he/she is to live a balanced and comfortable life.
The net implications of these figures is simple – but startling: the challenge of hearing loss is real and if not tackled head-on, complete deafness or a very poor quality of life is almost certain.
The first option is to go for the traditional hearing aids that are prescribed by audiologists. But these devices are usually very, very expensive, costing as much as $6,000 or even more!
The second option, the one we recommend here is the use of over the counter hearing aids or amplifiers. These devices are far cheaper, and they’ve been severally proven to be equally as effective as audiologist-prescribed hearing aids.
What are over-the-counter hearing aids? Are they safe?
Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids/amplifiers are small, insertable devices that are plugged into or placed over the ear to assist the wearer process sounds better.
Very easy to plug into the ear and remove (when needed), these amplifiers are light, portable and do not need to be used with the prescription of a hearing aid specialist.
What this means is that OTC hearing aids can be bought and used without the recommendations of a medical doctor – directly over the counter. This simple reality saves you the stress of having to book an appointment with the doctor or in the instance that previous appointments had proved futile, it also gives you the power to make your own choice directly and hold the reins of your hearing right into your hands.
A noticeable advantage of these OTC hearing amplifiers is the fact that they are also way cheaper than the ridiculously expensive hearing aids that most specialists prescribe. These OTC hearing aids also brilliantly hold their own against the older hearing aids that hitherto dominated the assisted hearing scene and in many instances, have been proven to work just as effectively as many of the more expensive variants.
Safety wise, Over the Counter hearing aids as safe as Panadol; being sold over the counter, maximum care is expended in their manufacture to ensure that they meet strict standards that will ensure better hearing for the users.
As a matter of fact, hunters (who have no hearing challenge whatsoever) are increasingly using Over the Counter hearing aids to amplify their hearing ability so that they can be able to detect game better than what their normal auditory powers permit.
Things to consider when buying an OTC hearing aid
Buying an OTC hearing aid is usually a simple and straightforward procedure. However, if you do not know what to consider or look out for, you may pick an option that may not give you the results you expected.
To guide you thus and ensure that you make the right choice, here are 6 points to help you decide on the best option for you:
>> Battery life
Any hearing aid that has a poor battery life is as good as scrap. The reasons, of course, are very obvious: what exactly is the value of a hearing aid when it is not powered and active?
Accordingly, when you’re considering an OTC option, be certain to check on its battery life and ensure that it is impressive – or long enough never to leave you stranded.
>> Volume control reality
When using an OTC sound amplifier, it is often a smart option to make certain that you have complete control of the volume – and are actually in a position to ‘tune in’ the volume as the need actually demands.
This can only be made possible, however, when you use a model that actually comes fitted with volume control.
To benefit from the reality of such control, it is a smart option to make certain that you only purchase models that are powered with an active volume control that can be easily tuned up or down when the need dictates.
>> Size and adjustability
Not all users of hearing aids love advertising the fact that they are using one. Great chances are that, you are such a person too.
To keep the fact that you’re making use of a hearing device to amplify sound to yourself, you’ll need a model that is largely discreet and importantly, is adjustable to fit your ear and make long wearing very comfortable.
This reality on an OTC hearing aid is completely non-negotiable.
While relatively cheaper than the conventional hearing aids, an OTC hearing aid can still cost a couple hundred dollars – which is by no standard a negligible sum of money.
When you’re spending such an amount of money on a product, be it an Over the Counter hearing aid or anything else, an awesome warranty is one of the things you’ll certainly expect and should as a matter of fact, look out for.
Finally, it is important to make certain that your chosen Over the Counter hearing amplifier is also very light weight by design.
While this is basically common sense, many first time buyers actually miss this bit and only get to understand how inconvenient a weighty aid can be after the purchase and eventual use.
To avoid buyers’ remorse and ensure that you get the best value for your money, it is advisable that you consider only the lightest models in the market and when you finally decide, ensure that the hearing aid you’ve settled for weighs almost next to nothing – the ideal weight that will make you enjoy its use thoroughly.
>> Moderate price
The joy of an OTC hearing aid lies in the fact that it functions just like a traditional, very expensive hearing aid with the exception that it is usually available for only a fraction of the cost of a traditional hearing aid.
A very pricey OTC model that dents a hole in your wallet certainly isn’t worth considering as it negates the entire, plug and play, over the counter concept and appeal.
To put this into perspective, any hearing aid north of $1,000 isn’t certainly worth your time.
Best OTC hearing aids: Our top 5 picks
Outlined below are the 5 best OTC hearing aids we have carefully handpicked for you. These hearing amplifiers, it must be stressed, meet all 6 criteria set above.
Shall we take a look?
1. Otofonix All Digital Volume Control Personal Sound Amplifier
Most hearing aids are not primarily designed to be fun and ensure an extremely happy time when using them. Instead, the focus has always been on practicality or if you prefer, functionality.
Not the Otofonix hearing amplifier!
Powered by 100% digital circuitry, this OTC hearing amplifier comes ready to use right out of the box.
Designed to fit adult users across sex and build, the hearing amplifier is fashioned in the vented ear dome design – a design that completely eliminates the sensation of wearing ear plugs.
With this sensation removed, you’re free to enjoy normal (or advanced) hearing – depending on your choice – from the 4 preset configurations that ensure that all manner of situations are covered and the hearing amplifier delivers, no matter the external conditions/noise levels.
- Extremely long battery life.
- 4 preset configurations each programmed for a type of external environment.
- 100% digital circuitry.
- 3 different types of ear dome tips to suite your ear build.
- Ready to wear out of the box.
- 1 year manufacturer’s warranty.
- This OTC hearing aid does not work satisfactorily in instances of severe hearing challenges.
- The product is a bit pricey (but not any way close to medically prescribed options).
2. Empower Hearing Amplifier
Not many users of a hearing aid advertise the fact that they use one. As a matter of fact, many do not want the people they come in contact with on a daily basis to see that they are actually relying on technology to enhance their hearing.
Great chances are that this is you.
Fortunately, the Empower Hearing Amplifier thoroughly understands this reality and perfectly meets up to the challenge. The OTC hearing amplifier is accordingly designed in a ‘pencil-thin’ manner and is barely visible to the eye when it is in use.
The Empower Hearing Amplifier is also designed in such a manner that besides enhancing sound and making it clearer for your comprehension, it also doubles up on the task of noise cancelling – ensuring that your device is functional and serves you in the most brilliant of manners even when the background noise rises to levels that you would ordinarily not be able to tolerate.
The best part of the design, of course, remains the fact that nothing from the body of the hearing aid comes out to the back of the ear, making the experience of using it as natural and easy as can be.
- Can be used straight out of the box.
- Barely noticeable when used.
- Easy to use ‘Quick Adjust’ switches that can be used to personalize use.
- 10 different volume adjustments.
- Various color options to suit your personal preference or skin color.
- Cellphone compatible.
- 12 months manufacturer’s warranty.
- This hearing aid is not ideal for users who have advanced auditory challenges.
3. Tweak Hearing Focus Model Personal Sound Amplifier
Not everyone who requires the technology an over-the-counter amplifier ensures appreciates the preset configurations. This is true especially if one’s environment is unique or has not been properly captured by any of the already preset configurations.
If this explains your reality, the Tweak Focus Model Hearing Amplifier is certainly worth a close and interested look.
This sound amplifier, unlike the other models with preset options, actually allows you to choose from a wide range of acoustic algorithms and ultimately, allows you to further lock in what setting serves you best.
This singular innovation ensures that you get the best of your hearing – and actually understand sound in the most natural of manners as it reaches your ear.
With the volume control and noise cancelling engineering of this unit, it remains one of the best options today so far as technologically assisted hearing is concerned.
- Allows you to choose from a range of acoustic algorithms and lock in the settings that suit you best.
- Digital volume control.
- Noise cancelation function.
- Sound activation compression.
- Monster battery that lasts up to 10 days with full daily use.
- Some elderly users do not like the device.
- Other customers opined that the hearing aid could be made to plug in the ear better.
4. Sound World Solutions CS50 Wireless Bluetooth Sound Amplifier
The joy of every hearing aid (whether over-the-counter or not) comes from the fact that the said aid can be brilliantly adjusted and used with as little trouble as possible. In essence, ease of use and flexibility are normally top of the essence when you’re looking for an OTC Hearing Amplifier.
Fortunately, nothing personifies that flexibility and ease of use better than the Sound World Solutions CS50.
This is because, the hearing amplifier can be operated by Bluetooth and is pairable to an optional app that lets you control its settings and operations from the convenience of a smartphone.
Engineered with 3 preset modes, it is the ultimate choice when you really wish to pick up every bit of sound that comes your way loud and clear and importantly, have absolute control about how you achieve that.
- Bluetooth function and app reality that ensures ease of use.
- Impressive battery life.
- Compatible with all Bluetooth enabled cellphones.
- 3 standard preset amplification modes.
- This unit can work straight out of the box.
- The sound amplifier is bigger than some customers would have loved it.
- The hearing aid does not cancel sound.
5. Digital Hearing Amplifier By Britzgo
If you’re interested in an FDA Approved hearing amplifier that is almost discreet and sports an impressive battery life, very few options beat the Britzgo BHA-220 Hearing Amplifier.
Sporting a 100% digital circuit and chip that are powered by a battery that is capable of churning out about 500hrs of hearing aid service before it is depleted; this is one of the most practical and safest digital hearing amplifiers currently on sale in the market today.
This digital hearing amplifier is further designed with a frequency control setting that tunes in to select the best background setting to ensure that your hearing is enhanced and its use maximized.
The fact that it is easy to operate (you can operate it with only one finger) and it is small enough to be completely discreet makes it a favorite for many users around the world today, especially in the US.
- FDA approved.
- The battery of this hearing amplifier lasts more than 500hrs per single charge.
- The OTC hearing aid is small and discreet.
- Easy one finger operation is possible with this hearing aid.
- Active (background) noise cancellation for better hearing.
- Stylish design.
- The aid is ready to be used right out of the box.
- This OTC hearing aid is not ideal for super active users like sports people.
- The device is ideal for users with mild to moderate hearing challenges.
Hearing, being one of the cardinal senses in humans is quite priceless.
Unfortunately, circumstances may threaten yours and put you in a situation where you need to look up to technology to enjoy sounds better or appreciate conversations in the most natural of manners.
If this is you, this article addresses that challenge by providing the 5 best over the counter hearing aids money can buy at the moment.
These OTC hearing aids, it must be noted, are of varying price points and contain various features, which we have highlighted and are certain that if consciously referred to, will individually address both your hearing challenges and personal preference.
One thing though: all options are way cheaper than the conventional — and very expensive — hearing aids that were previously the only option available to users with auditory challenges.
Happy shopping; better hearing 🙂