New study on the benefits of OTC hearing assistive devices


over-the-counter hearing aids

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has shown that people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss might benefit from relatively affordable over-the-counter devices.

There are scant data on the actual benefits of over-the-counter devices in lower levels of hearing loss. The authors, working at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland and Towson University, Maryland therefore compared a sample of personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) with a conventional hearing aid in people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss.

“Right now, we know that people wait an average of eight years before adopting a hearing aid, and the majority of people never adopt one at all,” said Nicholas S. Reed, Au.D., an instructor of audiology in the Department of Otolaryngology at Johns Hopkins and lead author on the study in an interview with Consumer Reports. “Instead of waiting those eight years, it would be nice if people started … [by] using these over-the-counter devices.”

The new study compared results for five different PSAPs (Sound World Solutions CS50+, Soundhawk, Etymotic BEAN, Tweak Focus, and MSA 30X Sound Amplifier) with a conventional hearing aid in 42 people aged 60 to 85 years with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Participants were asked to repeat words they heard in a simulated noisy environment using the various devices. The best results were obtained with the conventional hearing aid (12% increase in performance), but some of the much less expensive PSAPs were close behind, with an 11%, 10% or 8% increase.

Source: Consumer Reports; Reed NS, et al. Personal Sound Amplification Products vs a Conventional Hearing Aid for Speech Understanding in Noise. Journal of the American Medical Association 2017 Jul 4;318(1):89-90.