The short answer is no, but if you would like further reasoning please keep reading!
Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids have only been approved by the FDA for use by adults older than 18 years of age. Although we would encourage everyone to see an audiologist to have hearing aids appropriately fit to their specific hearing loss, there is a reason OTC hearing aids are definitely not recommended for children.
These devices are available over the counter, without a prescription, or involvement of a licensed hearing healthcare professional. When purchasing these devices you cut out your child’s pediatric audiologist who has undergone extensive training and understands when to involve other healthcare professionals such as an ear, nose and throat physician (ENT), speech therapist, or developmental pediatrician. Cutting out these services could potentially lead to delays in speech and language development.
If your child has been diagnosed with a hearing loss, a hearing aid that has been appropriately programmed by a pediatric audiologist is the only way to ensure your child has access to important speech sounds that they will use to develop their spoken language and continue to learn. OTC devices that are not customized to a child’s unique hearing loss or age based needs can lead to delays.
Additionally, OTC devices can pose a threat to your child’s safety. Hearing aid batteries are toxic and immediate medical treatment is required if these batteries are consumed. Many traditional hearing aids offer safety features with childproof battery locks, but OTC devices do not have these features. Many OTC devices are self-programming, meaning you could potentially turn the device up too loud causing additional damage to your child’s remaining hearing. On the other hand, some OTC devices may not be programmed loud enough, meaning your child will miss out on important speech sounds. This will negatively impact your child’s language development. Your pediatric audiologist can work with you to determine the most appropriate device for your child to not only ensure they have access to speech sounds, but they are also safe while wearing their technology.
If you are concerned about the financial burden of hearing technology, speak with your child’s audiologist! There are funding options available. Many states (including Texas) have legislation that mandates private insurance companies to provide some coverage toward pediatric hearing aids.