Story and photos by Ron Hendricks, Contributing Writer

They are here now! The Over the Counter (OTC) hearing aids. They are being advertised everywhere – the newspaper, TV, even on the radio. Hearing Loss Association of America Central Oklahoma Chapter (HLAA COC) does not endorse the OTC hearing aid but we don’t condemn them either. HLAA COC endorses education. Be a smart buyer.
Yes, less expensive hearing aids are now available by mail order. You can get a pair without visiting a doctor, audiologist, or even some hearing aid retailer. Think about it, you can now get a set of hearing aids at home in your underwear! But, will they work? Well, you should take a hearing test, but where? There are on line hearing tests available and even some may be taken over your smart phone. They are not in depth nor will they identify other potential health problems but they can tell if you have MILD or MODERATE hearing loss. * The OTC hearing aid may be for you but here are some points that you need to be certain you understand. There is no “free trial period.” * There is no one-size-fits-all. You may need to try several before you find one that works for you, * Understand the return policy of your seller. It is required to be printed on the box. There may be undisclosed fees so ask first. * This is not your grandma’s hearing aid. OTC aids may have various features but they are still not fully functioning ears. Be an educated buyer. * If your OTC aid does not function as advertised you can complain to the FDA at their website.
In short, if you have moderate hearing loss, you may be able to get a hearing aid that will helpful at a moderate cost but you must be an educated buyer. But, if your hearing loss is greater than mild, you should consult a professional. You are invited to attend the free HLAACOC educational seminar, on February 16, to hear a professional discuss the pros and cons of the OTC hearing aid. HLAACOC seminars are held every third Thursday, 11:30-1PM at the Will Rogers Garden Center, 3400 NW 36. Come and learn about hearing loss and how to live successfully in the hearing world.