In a few months, anyone can buy a hearing aid

Five years after the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act was signed into law, hearing aids will soon be available to people online and on store shelves regardless of a medical appointment, according to the FDA.

The act passed in 2017 but didn't come into effect until after President Joe Biden signed an Aug. 16 executive order that told the HHS it had 120 days to allow hearing aids to be sold over the counter. In response, the FDA said shoppers could see the product "as soon as mid-October."

Manufacturers that sell hearing aids have 240 days to comply, though, pushing the more likely timeline to early 2023.

The decision, which is slotted for products intended for mild to moderate hearing loss, is expected to lower costs and make the aids more accessible. Consumers can soon buy them "without the need for a medical exam, prescription or a fitting adjustment by an audiologist," according to the FDA. 

Nearly 38 million people, or 15 percent of the adult population, have self-reported auditory difficulties.

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