Around 30 million Americans 18 and over need hearing aids but don’t have them. Mostly because of cost. After decades of requiring a prescription, people can finally get hearing aids over-the-counter (OTC) as of Oct. 17, 2022. This 2022 ruling to sell them OTC can help expand access to hearing devices and offer potential cost savings. What once took an audiologist visit now just takes a trip to the pharmacy or a few clicks on Amazon. So which OTC hearing aids are the best, according to reviews from the experts?
Research is continually improving hearing devices. A new study explains that the next generation of hearing aids will be able to read lips even if people are wearing face masks. An international team of engineers and computing scientists developed the technology. It pairs radio-frequency sensing with artificial intelligence for the first time, along with traditional hearing aid technology. The point? To help tackle the “cocktail party effect,” a common shortcoming of traditional hearing aids. This basically means that new hearing aids will focus on specific sounds, like a conversation in a crowd.
Without hearing aids, people with hearing loss can withdraw socially and become isolated. They don’t want to put themselves in situations where they may mishear or seem disengaged, disinterested or unintelligent. This may be why studies show hearing loss is associated with depression and cognitive impairment. And prior to the availability of over-the-counter devices, only 30 percent of those over age 70 with hearing loss even used hearing aids.
Hopefully, with increased availability OTC and continuous medical advances, less people will suffer from the effects of hearing loss. If you’re interested in trying a hearing aid, many have risk-free trial periods! And according to nine experts, there are four that really stand out in today’s market. Below is a list of the best OTC hearing aids available without a prescription.
The List: Best OTC Hearing Aids, According To Pros
1. Lexie OTC
SeniorLiving.org discusses the options available from Lexie: “Lexie OTC hearing aids were developed by hearX Group, an award-winning company with a mission to provide access to affordable hearing healthcare. Lexie offers three OTC hearing aid options: one behind-the-ear (BTE) model and two nearly invisible receiver-in-canal (RIC) models. Lexie’s B1 and B2 RIC OTC hearing aids are powered by Bose, delivering an impressively clear and natural sound experience. The Lumen, Lexie’s BTE OTC hearing aid, is a fantastic choice for active, on-the-go adults. Its innovative sweatproof technology extends the device’s lifespan. Lexie’s line of OTC hearing aids come packed with advanced features you’d find on higher-priced hearing aids.”
The National Council on Aging is particularly impressed by the Bose technology, writing, “Lexie has partnered with Bose to develop two models of self-fitting OTC hearing aids: the B1 and B2. Both offer fine-tuning, so you can get the best listening experience possible, making Lexie our pick for ‘Best Self-Fitting’ OTC hearing aids. The Lexie B1 and B2 allow you to switch between listening profiles (called “environment settings” on the Lexie app), but you can also adjust parameters like directionality of sounds, balance between your left and right ears, bass, and treble.”
And for people just wanting a more basic model, the Lexie Lumen is the one MedicalNewsToday recommends: “Lexie states that [the Lumen] hearing aids may be best for those who would like a simple, preprogrammed hearing device. These hearing aids have six preset listening environments, feedback cancellation, and noise reduction, and they are sweatproof. Additionally, the company offers customized hearing. People can choose to take a hearing test through the Lexie app, and their hearing aid will automatically adjust to the settings the app recommends to give people a better hearing experience. Lexie offers a 45-day trial and a 1-year warranty.”
TheSeniorList likes this device for a few reasons: “The Enhance Select 50 is one of our favorite OTC hearing aids due to its advanced technology, stellar customer support, and highly affordable price point. When you purchase a Enhance Select 50, you’ll receive custom-fit hearing aids without having to visit an audiologist. The Enhance Select 50 can reduce background noise and prioritize voices, making it easy to carry on conversations in any type of environment — no matter how noisy. With the Jabra Enhance Select smartphone app, you can meet with the Jabra Enhance Select audiology team remotely to make adjustments as necessary. With its Bluetooth capabilities, you can also take calls and listen to music with your Enhance Select 50 hearing aids.”
AgingInPlace is also impressed: “Jabra Enhance continues to impress us with their quality and service, and our hands-on testing with their products confirms the claims made by the company regarding ease of use and best-in-class audiology support. Jabra Enhance Select hearing aids offer incredible value by providing effective and modern technology, ongoing audiology support, and an unmatched trial period.”
Another recommendation from the Jabra line is the Enhance Plus. Hearing Tracker says, “Jabra Enhance Plus is a medical-grade self-fitting OTC hearing aid from GN Hearing. At $799/pair, the Jabra hearing aids look like modern wireless earbuds but have features more often associated with traditional hearing aids, including speech enhancement, directional microphones, noise reduction, feedback suppression, and Bluetooth streaming. They also feature consumer-friendly earbud applications including streaming audio and hands-free calling via Bluetooth® (iPhones only). You can also purchase an added $199 Belcare+ service package, which includes a hearing evaluation and professional support, if you wish to purchase the devices at a local Beltone office.”
Digital Trends likes their earbud qualities: “These sleek earbuds can easily be mistaken for a pair of Jabra’s traditional Bluetooth buds. They have not only hearing enhancement capabilities, but the ability to play music via Bluetooth and take calls. Jabra uses dedicated microphones to cut down on background noise and boost speech to make it easier to hear. They’re also water-resistant, so you don’t have to worry about taking them outside or on workouts. Settings can all be easily controlled via the Jabra Enhance app to personalize and program the buds. Plus, while they’re expensive compared to a normal set of earbuds, they’re on the more affordable side for OTC hearing aids.”
4. Eargo 6
The New York Times recommends these tiny but mighty devices: “These tiny hearing aids sit fully inside the ears, so they’re nearly invisible and don’t interfere with glasses. This unique design may be especially appealing to people who dislike the feeling or look of traditional hearing aids, which have a sound tube or wire that drapes over the ear. The IPX7 waterproof rating means the Eargo 6 can handle sweat and physically active lifestyles, even if you dunk your head into water.”
Hear Soundly is excited about this option, too, saying, “In my opinion, Eargo is the most exciting brand in the hearing health space. The CA-based brand built its tiny, rechargeable product from scratch and sells fully online. At $2,950, Eargo’s latest product is the most expensive on this list but is still only half the cost of traditional invisible hearing aids (typically $4K-6K). If you need support, you can access their team of audiologists at any time. I recommend purchasing Eargo 6.”
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- National Council on Aging
- Hearing Tracker
- Digital Trends
- The New York Times
- Hear Soundly
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. Study Finds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.