During this first year that over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids became available, four major types of solutions for those with mild to moderate hearing loss have emerged:
- Self-fitting hearing aids: In- or over-the-ear models certified by the FDA as Class II medical devices meant to mimic and replace prescription hearing aids from an audiologist
- Self-fitting Bluetooth hearing aids: Standard Bluetooth buds that double as OTC hearing aids certified by the FDA as Class II medical devices
- Non-self-fitting in- or over-the-ear models certified by the FDA as Class II medical devices: These OTC hearing aids can’t be customized for a wearer’s specific hearing loss but provide situational presets and other technologies to improve and boost hearing
- Personal Sound Amplification Devices (PSAD): Non-FDA certified devices that simply and indiscriminately make all ambient sound louder
However, a potential fifth class of “hearing aid” has recently emerged – standard Bluetooth earbuds that amplify ambient sounds, not just let sound through.
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