If you think this type of device will meet your needs, how can you decide on the best OTC hearing aids among all the choices on the market? Take a look at our list below to help you make an informed choice.
This is the starting point for many people when thinking about which hearing aid is best for them. It’s important to buy a hearing aid that is comfortable to wear and one that provides great sound quality, since you’ll be wearing it for eight or more hours every day.
OTC hearing aids are available in a variety of designs, from in-the-ear (ITE) earbud-style devices to models that sit behind the ear, which include receiver-in-canal (RIC) or behind-the-ear (BTE) styles. Read our hearing aids buyer’s guide to learn more about hearing aid styles.
Features and Technology
OTC hearing aids come in a wide range of models, from very basic devices to advanced hearing instruments that can be adjusted to your hearing profile. It can be tempting to buy the most high-tech hearing aids available, but it’s important to consider which features you’ll use before paying for them.
For instance, do you want a hearing aid with Bluetooth connectivity? The volume and setting on Bluetooth hearing aids can be adjusted using a smartphone app, but some people prefer making adjustments with buttons or dials on the hearing aid itself. Certain Bluetooth hearing aids will also stream audio from your phone or other electronics, so it’s good to know whether you want that capability as well.
Also, consider your lifestyle when thinking about hearing aid features. If you spend most of your time at home, in quiet environments, and in small groups of friends and family, a more basic and affordable hearing aid, like Audien, Go Hearing, or the least expensive Lucid or MDHearing models may be fine for your needs.
But if you’re often in noisy environments that present listening challenges, you may want a higher-end device with more advanced sound processing abilities and options for customization to your hearing needs in each environment. Brands like Jabra Enhance, Eargo, Lexie, and Audicus, offer some of the best OTC hearing aids with higher-end technology.
Are you interested in disposable or rechargeable batteries? You’ll pay several hundred dollars more for rechargeability in most cases, but you may find that the convenience is worth the extra cost.
Because most OTC hearing aids don’t come with the option of seeing an audiologist in person for adjustments and support, it’s very important to look for a brand offering a trial period to allow you time to make sure the hearing aids fit well and are helping with your hearing loss.
It’s ideal to have a trial period of at least 45 days, because hearing specialists say new hearing aid users may need several weeks to get used to their new devices.14 Most states require hearing aid dispensers to provide a trial period. To view a list of each state’s requirements, see the Hearing Loss Association of America.
Warranty length is also important, as hearing aids are complex electronic devices. You’ll want to find out not only how long the standard warranty is, but also what it covers. Among OTC hearing aids, a one-year warranty covering manufacturer defects is common.
Some manufacturers do include loss, damage, or wear and tear in their standard warranties. Jabra Enhance is a good example, with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty and three years of coverage for loss and damage.
Still other brands provide a short and/or limited warranty, with the option to purchase extended warranty coverage. MDHearing and Lexie both offer this type of coverage.
Take a look back at Table 1 at the beginning of this review to compare the warranty lengths of every brand in this review.
New manufacturers are emerging constantly in the rapidly changing OTC hearing aid market. Consumers need to know how to spot reputable companies and avoid handing their money over to those who are making false claims or selling devices that aren’t true hearing aids.
One of the best ways to find out if a company is registered with the FDA is to search the FDA establishment registration and device listing, which includes medical device registrations.1 It’s also important to read independent customer reviews of any hearing aid you’re interested in buying. Don’t take the company’s word for their reputation; check out sites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and TrustPilot to see what others have to say.
Read about ways to avoid OTC hearing aid scams for more information.