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Pocono Hearing Aid Center weighs pros and cons on over-the-counter hearing aids

Over-the-counter hearing aids are for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss.

STROUDSBURG, Pa. — Every day, patients inside Monroe Hearing Aid Center in Stroudsburg get fitted for a pair of hearing aids. 

But after the Food and Drug Administration okayed rolling out over-the-counter hearing aids, the owner is worried many of those patients will turn to them. 

"We look at the over-the-counter almost as a "DIY." A do it yourself. Decide what you need. Maybe make a phone call and then stick them in your ear," said Denise Nicholson, a licensed hearing instrument dispenser and the owner of the center in Stroudsburg.

She says over-the-counter hearing aids are for adults with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss.

"How does somebody perceive what level their hearing loss is, and if there is not going to be a practitioner to take a look inside their ear to see if there's some underlying medical condition that needs to be corrected? I think that's a big disadvantage for the consumer," Nicholson said.

When it comes to your hearing health, the owner here at Monroe Hearing Aid Center says it's really important. That's why she says there are many pros and cons to over-the-counter hearing aids.

Nicholson says the affordability and attainability of over-the-counter hearing aids are appealing but feels there are other factors that should go into the decision-making process.

"The care that we provide when people initially come in is a thorough hearing evaluation," Nicholson said. "A recommendation that somebody see a doctor if there's any underlying condition that we see or a perforated eardrum or perhaps ear wax."

The owner worries that over-the-counter hearing aids may deter people from actually getting the care they need. 

"Again, I feel if somebody buys lower priced over the counter, they haven't even had a test," Nicholson said. "They don't know what level their loss is, and they have a bad experience with that. I absolutely think it might absolutely prevent some people from seeking the help that they really need. Seeing a professional."

Nicholson says the bottom line is- While an over-the-counter hearing aid may be a good fit for some, it will not be for everyone.

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