WASHINGTON D.C.: Hearing aids can now be sold without prescriptions from a doctor in the U.S., making it easier and cheaper for many Americans to improve their hearing.
In October, over-the-counter hearing aids became available in the US, with some costing thousands of dollars lower than prescription hearing aids.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some 30 million Americans are suffering from hearing loss, but only about 20 percent of those who could use a hearing aid seek help.
The FDA approved over-the-counter hearing aids for adults with mild-to-moderate hearing losses, which could include those people who have trouble hearing phone calls or have to greatly increase their TV volumes, as well as those who have trouble understanding group conversations in noisy locations, such as restaurants and bars.
However, it is still hard for people to gauge their own hearing losses, so there is still an option to see a specialist just for a test, which is often covered by insurance, before buying hearing aids.
Several major retailers offer over-the-counter hearing aids online and in stores, such as Walgreens drugstores, which sells Lexie Lumen hearing aids nationwide for $799. Walmart also offers hearing aids ranging from about $200 to $1,000 per pair, and its health centers offer hearing test services.
Catherine Palmer, a hearing expert at the University of Pittsburgh, said shoppers should expect a lot of devices to enter and leave the market.
"It will be quite a while before this settles down," she added, as quoted by Reuters.
Most over-the-counter hearing aids cost between $500 and $1,500 for a pair, though some can cost as much as $3,000, and may have to be replaced every five years.