Researchers report that a handful of over-the-counter “personal sound amplification products” fared as well as an expensive hearing aid in helping people pick up more words in conversation. While the study took place in a sound booth, “in this controlled environment, some of these devices helped people with mild to moderate hearing loss as well as a hearing aid.” An estimated 16 percent of Americans have trouble hearing, and the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that almost 30 million people could benefit from hearing aids. But hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars, and Medicare doesn’t cover them. In contrast, personal sound amplification products, available at stores and online, aren’t regulated and can’t be marketed as hearing aids. People do use the devices as hearing aids, however. These products tend to be less technologically advanced than hearing aids, although some offer advanced features. For now, adults with mild to moderate hearing loss may want to consider using one of the devices and consult an audiologist if needed to adjust it.
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