Callaway and Punch recently published their evaluation of 11 over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids. The devices are often marketed in magazines, newspapers, and the Internet, etc., as special purpose listening devices for hunters, bird-watchers, whispering, eaves-dropping, etc. The authors examined hearing aid gain and output, as prescribed by NAL, across three common hearing loss configurations. They evaluated eight devices that retailed for less than $100, and three devices that retailed between $100 and $500. Devices in the $100 to $500 range met gain and output targets more often than did the less expensive devices. The less expensive devices were electro-acoustically inadequate for the hearing losses and had high equivalent input noise levels and arguably posed a hearing safety hazard. The more expensive devices may potentially serve as an interim device, until appropriate rehabilitation is available. The authors stated, "Without exception, manufacturers of hearing devices in the low-range group (<$100) did not or could not provide hearing device specifications. A few low-range devices included some accompanying specifications; however, they were entirely unreliable and mostly faulty." Medical News Today
and UPI.com quoted Dr. Punch as saying, "Low-cost aids generally don't meet the fitting requirements to help a hearing impaired person and could potentially damage a person's hearing." Callaway and Punch concluded that hearing impaired individuals should use extreme caution when purchasing OTC hearing aids because no professional is looking out for damage to their hearing secondary to using the OTC device, and these OTC devices can pose a hearing safety hazard.For more Information, References and Recommendations:
Callaway, SL., Punch, JL. (2008): An Electroacoustic Analysis of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids American Journal of Audiology Vol.17 14-24 June 2008.
Study Finds Not All Hearing Aids Are Created Equal (August 13, 2008)
(August 15, 2008)
(August 15, 2008)