With the FDA giving over-the-counter hearing aids a formal definition and safety labeling standards, this has proved excellent news for some, yet very confusing for others. Many of my patients thought the FDA ruling was about Medicare coverage for hearing aids, sadly, it is not. This new FDA ruling is a 200+ page document defining what is and is not an over-the-counter hearing aid, how manufacturers can market and label it, and where it can be sold.
On the plus side, for those who are starting to notice difficulty hearing in one or two environments it may be an easily accessible and affordable hearing device designed to simply amplify sound. With more choices and so much confusion in place, it’s time to make sense of what it all now means.
In this article, we will share what we have learned so far about two of the most popular over the counter hearing aids, Bose Sound Control and the Jabra Enhance Plus, and what to do if you believe you might need them.
But, before we get started, let’s first distinguish the differences between over-the-counter hearing aids and prescription hearing aids, as if you are someone who is very new to this, it is helpful for you to know.
What’s the Difference between Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids and Prescription Hearing Aids?
Put simply, there is a sizable difference.
The plainest comparison would be readers versus having your eyes tested and having corrective lenses prescribed based on your eye test.
This is why over-the-counter devices are being recommended for people with a mild hearing loss that may need hearing help in specific situations, rather than a long-term therapeutic solution.
You put them into your ears when you are out for a meal or when you are at church — a little like putting your readers on when reading a newspaper — but they’re not designed to be used as a long-term medical-based solution.
Prescription hearing aids on the other hand are for people who want to prolong their long-term hearing brain health and maximize their hearing.
They require a thorough ear and hearing evaluation to understand what the underlying health of the ears and hearing are to determine if there are medical or surgical interventions that would restore hearing or if sounds are being missed, and then a set of medical-grade devices are programmed to the exact level of hearing loss, which are then professionally fitted to ensure you achieve the best possible performance.
Each step is with a hearing health professional, and there are many steps required to ensure that your devices are adjusted, cleaned, and continue to deliver the outcomes that you’re looking for.
If you have noticed a sudden drop in your hearing quality, then our professional advice is to have a hearing test, as this is the only way you’ll know for sure what is really happening with your ears.
What Are the Best Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids Right Now?
So, now you know the difference between over-the-counter hearing aids and prescription hearing aids, let’s take a look at two of the most popular: Bose Sound Control and Jabra Enhance Plus.
The Bose Sound Control (Now Known as the Lexie B1 Hearing Aids Powered by Bose)
Now, it’s important to note that, although this is one of the most popular self-fitting hearing devices,
Bose has actually decided to make a swift exit from the hearing aid market.
Bose has instead partnered with Lexie Hearing to deliver their technology!
However, their Sound Control devices are still in existence and maintained by Bose, so therefore still worth a review.
A Few Fast Facts about the Lexie B1 Hearing Aids Powered by Bose
- Priced between $899 and $849, or $49 per month
- They do not have direct Bluetooth streaming capabilities.
- They use a disposable 312 battery that lasts between 5-7 days depending on its use
- You do not have to see an audiologist in order to purchase the Bose Sound Control
- You are required to set up the devices yourself at home using the smartphone app. This requires you to own a s
- They are water resistant and include limited background noise control.
- Easy set up for those familiar with using smartphone technology.
What People Are Saying about the Lexie B1 Hearing Aids Powered by Bose:
“Yes, they’re good. Couldn’t imagine them being applied for major hearing loss, though” – Keith Brown
The Jabra Enhance Plus
As one of the certified Jabra Enhance centers in the US, we are delighted to see that the Jabra Enhance Plus has made big waves since its launch in 2021, and we hope it will entice the 22 million US adults who have yet to treat their hearing loss to do so.
The Jabra Enhance Plus is a very popular choice among those with a mild to moderate hearing loss, and it will hopefully meet the needs of people who are ready to take small, initial steps toward treating their hearing loss properly, with the earbuds being a good option for individuals who are at the beginning of their hearing loss journey.
A Few Fast Facts about the Jabra Enhance Plus
- Priced on the lower end of the market at $799 per pair.
- Only compatible with iPhone/iPod Touch/ iPad, as Android has not yet developed an Android app to be compatible with the Jabra Enhance Plus.
- Uses Bayesian pure tone audiometry to personalize the device to the person’s hearing loss by using NAL-NL1 prescriptive target.
- They come in two colours: Black or beige.
- They do have Bluetooth streaming capabilities; however, it’s been noted that connection is somewhat intermittent.
- Digital noise reduction to cut background noise
- Speech-in-noise capabilities to help you to hear conversations in moderately louder environments
- Up to 30 hours battery rechargeability when using the carry case.
- EarGels in three sizes for a secure and comfortable fit
- Rich and clear sound for music and phone calls
- Easy set up if you are comfortable with iPhone apps
What People Are Saying about the Jabra Enhance Plus
“The Jabra Enhance Plus is a viable hearing option for someone who doesn’t want to wear hearing aids all day. If you are looking for a “reading glasses” type solution to especially tough listening environments, this could be a great place to start.” – Matthew Millar
Our Professional Opinion
Before you try any OTC hearing device, make sure you have a measurable hearing loss first and find the cause.
Always start with a real diagnostic assessment of your ears and hearing by an audiologist (not just a hearing aid evaluation). This provides a real baseline of your auditory system and ensures that there is not some underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed.
If your hearing loss is mild-moderate, cool new devices like the Lexie B1 Powered By Bose and the Jabra Enhance Plus can help give you an edge for those specific listening situations where you are struggling.
For people on the fence or who have a hearing loss that does not meet clinical criteria for hearing aids, but they are struggling to hear, this might be just the thing to help.
If you think this could be the solution you’ve been looking for, contact us to find out more.
We can’t wait to help you find the perfect hearing solution for you.