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Hearing aids now available over the counter

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – You can now buy hearing aids over the counter for the first time in the U.S. No medical exams or prescriptions are needed.

This comes after a recent rule change by the Food and Drug Administration aimed at making hearing aids more accessible to the general public.

Laverne Carson of Bellevue says hearing aids have been a game-changer for him. He’s used hearing aids for more than half his life. “I could hear better. I could turn the TV down,” he said.

Carson says he could not have done it without help from his doctors.

A medical exam by a doctor or a prescription was required to get hearing aids.

But starting October 17, adults with mild or moderate hearing loss can buy them over the counter. People under 18 or those with severe hearing loss will still need a prescription.

They’ll be available at major store chains like Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens.

In Omaha, it might take some time. 6 News stopped by a Walgreens and CVS. Neither had the hearing aids yet. Pharmacists at Walgreens on 5038 Center Street say they’ll likely have them Tuesday, October 18. Other pharmacists say they’re still learning about them.

David Kohll with Kohll’s Rx said, “We don’t have them yet. I want to make sure if we’re going to do it and carry them, we need to do it right.”

Kohll says he’ll be taking a class to learn how they work and who will benefit most. “They’re over the counter so they probably aren’t as sophisticated as what you might need for an audiologist,” he said.

Carson is skeptical. “The main thing is you want them balanced, and I don’t know how over the counter you can balance them to where you’re hearing out of both ears,” he said.

The Hearing Loss Association of America says it can take weeks to adjust hearing aids properly. Some are adjustable through an app on a smartphone. The HLAA says people should consider all of this before shelling out the big bucks.

The over-the-counter hearing aids cost anywhere between $200 to $1,000.

Best Buy will also offer sound amplifiers that don’t need to meet FDA standards.

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