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Cost can be a barrier to getting hearing aids. But more affordable solutions are in the works. In December, the FDA announced it would no longer enforce the requirement that adults receive a medical evaluation or sign a waiver prior to purchasing most hearing aids. The FDA may also create a category of over-the-counter hearing aids, expected to inspire new products that cost hundreds, not thousands, of dollars.
These products would likely be right for people with mild hearing loss only, who need sound amplification. Some over-the-counter hearing aids are already available on the Internet. "Just remember that without a hearing evaluation, a hearing aid may not fit or work properly, or a dangerous underlying condition could be missed. The benefits must be weighed against the potential risks," says Dr. David Jung, an otologist (ear specialist) with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.