OTC Hearing Aids: Returns – a key piece of the puzzle

Lise Hamlin headshot picture

By Lise Hamlin, Director of Public Policy, Hearing Loss Association of America

You’re taking a first step to treating your hearing loss. Many people wait years to act, so we’re glad you’re addressing your hearing health!

The new category of Over-the-Counter (OTC) hearing aids, expected on store shelves starting in in mid-October, could be a good place to start for adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.

What should you take into consideration as you begin the search for an OTC hearing aid?

One major key to success is a good return policy, which the FDA did not require in its rule released August 16. So, it’s up to the consumer to check this critical feature.

Why is it so important?
  • Innovation – New types of devices are expected in the OTC space. Some could work well in testing, or in certain situations, but perform differently for you.
  • Individual differences – Your hearing loss is unique to you, and what worked for your neighbor or friend, may not work well for you.
  • No instant results – Hearing aids are different than glasses. Your brain may need 2–4 weeks to adjust to listening and perceiving sounds in a new way.
  • Trial and error – You will need a few weeks to test a device out in different situations. Do they help you at work, or in a crowded restaurant? Testing and logging your reactions from different situations over a few weeks is ideal.
Avoiding problems.
  • Look for a comprehensive return policy on the box, and more details may be online.
  • Make sure you understand policy details, and that it gives you enough time to truly test the device.
  • If an OTC hearing aid has significant problems, file a complaint with the FDA, or call 1.800.FDA.1088.
  • Don’t give up! If the first product doesn’t work, try another.
  • You’re not alone! HLAA knows that addressing your hearing health is an important step to overall well-being. We support millions of Americans, like you, who have hearing loss.
  • Stay tuned to HLAA for news on OTC hearing aids as it develops, and other hearing health issues and resources.
  • Consider joining an HLAA Chapter, and participating in a Walk4Hearing near you to meet and support others with hearing loss.

Stay tuned for more information and resources soon. For questions, contact HLAA at inquiries@hearingloss.org.

Facebook Icon

Follow HLAA and “Like” us on Facebook today!