The modern world has its comforts, but it can also be rough on your precious ears. Loud music, house-rumbling construction noises, and more can all contribute to gradual hearing loss.
However, there are ways to cope with hearing loss, including wearing a hearing aid or personal sound amplification product (PSAP).
Below, we take a closer look at Nano Hearing Aids and outline the difference between PSAPs and hearing aids.
Nano Hearing Aids has a line of devices that includes over-the-counter (OTC) PSAPs. These aren’t the same as hearing aids, so the name is a bit deceiving.
Since 2017, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act has allowed the sale of OTC PSAPs to improve access to these kinds of devices. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate them the same way they do hearing aids, though.
Prescription hearing aids are FDA-regulated class 1 medical devices that treat hearing loss. Ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctors or audiologists typically prescribe them after they’ve figured out what’s causing hearing loss.
On the flip side, while PSAPs don’t require a prescription or doctor’s visit, they don’t actually treat hearing loss. Rather, they make the sounds around you louder.
They’re also incapable of separating out different kinds of noise, and unlike hearing aids, they’re not customizable. Licensed professionals program medical hearing aids based on a doctor’s prescription or audiogram, while PSAPs are mass-produced. Additionally, PSAPs can cause more hearing damage because of the way they amplify sound.
Currently, the FDA’s final decision on OTC hearing aid requirements is delayed due to COVID-19. That means that right now, there aren’t any rules about how companies can market their OTC hearing aids, making it challenging for consumers to wade through the various devices available.
Nano has six different device lines. They sell both behind-the-ear and in-the-ear devices.
These are the priciest option that Nano sells. They fit behind the ear but have earbuds that go inside the ear. They’re very small, making them almost invisible.
When the battery is low, users get an audible alert.
Users can also access frequency and feedback controls to eliminate unwanted noise.
These devices are Bluetooth enabled and work with the Nano mobile app. They also feature noise-reduction technology. They’re battery powered and fit behind the ear.
These feature noise-filtering and -canceling technology and large, easy-to-press buttons. These also fit behind the ear.
They offer four different settings, depending on the type of environment you’re in.
Nano X2 Recharge
These are exactly the same as the Nano X2.0, but they’re rechargeable. You can use them for up to 16 hours on a single charge. They come with a charging case.
These rechargeable devices are Nano’s entry-level offering. The units go behind the ear and feature noise-reduction technology.
Like Nano X2 Recharge, these can be used for up to 16 hours after charging. However, instead of a charging case, they come with a USB charging cord.
Nano CIC Recharge
These are Nano’s in-the-canal devices. They come with multiple earbud sizes. They’re battery operated and feature noise-canceling technology. With your purchase, you’ll get a 6-month supply of batteries.
Nano Hearing Aids cost between $999 and $3,500, and that’s for one unit to outfit one ear. However, there are sometimes sales.
The cost for a set of prescription hearing aids ranges from $1,600 to $8,000.
If you’re experiencing hearing loss, your best bet is to speak with an ENT doctor. If there’s no known medical cause, an audiologist can perform a hearing test and recommend a suitable device to treat your hearing loss.
Be sure to avoid skipping a hearing test. During these exams, your healthcare professional can identify any underlying health issues, including life threatening conditions, that may affect your hearing.
Companies need to be transparent about the differences between prescription devices and OTC PSAPs. Unfortunately, many brands are more interested in selling their products than giving sound advice to customers.
On Nano’s FAQ page, they say that it’s unnecessary to see an audiologist, which makes us hesitant to recommend their products.
They also say that the hearing aids are FDA registered and “are Medical Prosthetic Devices classified as Class I.” This is a misleading description. An FDA registered device is different from an FDA approved one.
All medical devices need to be registered with the FDA before being sold, so saying a product is registered doesn’t tell you much. Class I just means that it’s a type of device that’s considered low risk by the FDA.
Based on the following criteria, Nano Hearing Aids has a fair reputation:
- The company has a B Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating.
- The name Nano Hearing Aids is misleading since they’re not true medical hearing aids nor are they FDA approved.
- There are currently no FDA warning letters addressed specifically to Nano. However, in 2018, the
FDA issued a letterto all hearing device companies, cautioning them against advertising their products as OTC hearing aids.
- There are no recent or pending lawsuits involving Nano Hearing Aids.
On the BBB site, Nano Hearing Aids has an average customer review rating of 3.92 out of 5, from a total of over 1,200 reviews. Customers have filed more than 1,000 complaints against the company in the past 3 years.
Most of the complaints have to do with product quality issues or issues with refunds. Nano has responded to most of the complaints. Still, some customers note they were not satisfied by the responses or outcomes.
Most of the reviews on the company website are positive. Many negative comments have to do with background noise issues. People also say that the hearing aids don’t clarify sound very well.
Nano has a 45-day satisfaction guarantee. People who are unsatisfied with their new device can return it for a full refund within the 45-day time frame. Note that shipping fees are nonrefundable.
To start a return, you’ll need to call or email the company. Some BBB complaints outline problems with the return process. In some cases, people say they never received their refunds.
The company also offers protection plans for their devices. These plans will cover you for 1 year if you accidentally damage the device, or if you discover a manufacturing defect or malfunction. You can read more about Nano’s plans here.
Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of Nano hearing aids:
- More affordable than prescription hearing aids. Some of Nano’s options are cheaper than medical hearing aids, making them more accessible to those on a budget.
- Easier to access than prescription hearing aids. You don’t need a prescription to buy one of these devices.
- Not FDA approved. Nano Hearing Aids are registered with the FDA, which is something that every company selling medical devices has to do. They’re not regulated like prescription hearing aids.
- No evidence behind the newer tech. Nano claims that their app, which works with some of their more recent devices, can perform hearing tests. There’s no evidence that these tests can replace audiograms and other doctor-performed hearing tests.
Although you don’t need to get seen by a doctor unless you’re under 18, the
A healthcare professional — preferably an ENT or audiologist — can evaluate the cause and amount of your hearing loss. They can also fit you with a hearing aid for your needs.
The FDA suggests double-checking whether an audiologist or hearing aid dispenser is licensed.
Without a firm FDA ruling about OTC PSAPs, we can’t recommend Nano Hearing Aids. We’re also wary of the way Nano markets their products as “hearing aids.”
That said, nothing is stopping you from trying out this type of device for yourself. However, it’s best to talk with your healthcare professional or an audiologist before buying any kind of hearing aid.
If you’re experiencing hearing loss, a healthcare professional can determine what’s causing your hearing loss and help treat it.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.