Over-the-counter hearing aids are coming to a pharmacy near you. Here’s what you need to know


HOUSTON – At the end of October, you will be able to buy hearing aids at a pharmacy like Walgreens or CVS. Electronic retailers like Best Buy will also have them in stores.

They already appear online too.

So that begs the question…

Are they cheaper?

Yes, although they cost up to $300, they are hundreds or thousands of dollars cheaper than some prescription devices.

Jana Austin with Allison Audiology in Memorial City said thinking of over-the-counter hearing aids like reading glasses you can buy at the drugstore. Although some people need a prescription, others may need something as simple as an over-the-counter (OTC) option.

Who should get OTC hearing aids?

“If you’re someone with mild to moderate hearing loss and situational challenges you’re having with your hearing, an over-the-counter option would be great,” Austin said.

These situational needs may include:

  • Large group meetings a little harder to understand

  • During worship hours the speaker is not as clear as you would like

Who should get a prescription hearing aid?

You may need a prescription hearing aid if:

  • If others comment on misunderstandings

  • TV is too loud

  • Colleagues seem to mumble

  • It is more difficult to separate speech from background noise

Austin said that even if you know your situation is mild, that still doesn’t necessarily mean you need a hearing aid.

She said to start with an ENT or audiologist appointment to make sure your struggle is truly hearing loss related. Sometimes, she says, it can be a buildup of earwax.

If your hearing is slightly affected, ask if a device is right for you.

She said that of the two types of devices, one is neither superior nor inferior to the other, they are designed and intended for different purposes and needs.

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