Hearing aids can be bought over the counter starting next week

Traditional hearing aids can run patients thousands of dollars, not to mention upfront costs like doctor visits.

But starting next week, adults will be able to buy hearing aids over the counter at places like Walgreens and CVS, or online, at a fraction of the cost.

"These devices are intended for adults only with mild to moderate hearing loss that is self-perceived," said Barbara Kelly, Executive Director of the Hearing Loss Association of America.

Audiologists say these new devices could be a great option for people who have slight trouble hearing, but not to the level where they would need a traditional hearing aid in all day.


"When I identify that patient, with that type of hearing loss, what happens is they might not want to wear a hearing aid all day long," said Kristen Conners, an audiologist with Prescription Hearing in Palos Hills. "They might not need a hearing aid all day long, but they need something."

But she says proceed with caution, because a lot is still unknown about the quality of the over-the-counter hearing aids, including whether they will fit patients correctly and follow FDA volume guidelines.

"Hopefully those devices will not exceed those output limits," said Conners.

She also points out the over-the-counter devices might not be for everyone because each individual's hearing loss is unique and can often indicate a treatable medical issue like impaction, wax in the ears, or holes in the eardrum.

"That person has to be educated and understand what their hearing loss is, and if that type of device is appropriate or not," said Conners.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are expected to hit pharmacy store shelves on Monday, October 17, and are for adults over 18 with mild or moderate hearing loss. If you do fall into that category, doctors still urge you to get an ear exam.