Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are appearing more often in stores and online. These devices are meant to make it convenient to get help for hearing loss. They also may make this type of device more affordable. But medical experts and even government officials have some significant worries about some of the repercussions of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even releasing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re getting from patients. Some of these concerns are discussed below.
A Hearing Exam is Still Necessary
The concept that you can just go get a hearing aid at the store or online without dealing with important steps like a hearing exam is a serious worry. It will be impossible to identify what the best solution for your hearing loss is without these steps. Also, your hearing loss may be related to other health concerns which you could miss. Hearing tests also let you know how to set up the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is Identical
Generally speaking, people have a tendency to think of hearing loss as a sort of decreasing of the volume meter on your ears. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the effect is immediate: everything goes quiet.
But adjusting the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like actual hearing loss. This happens because different wavelengths and frequencies are impacted with hearing loss. If your hearing aid, OTC or otherwise, is not precisely calibrated for your specific hearing loss, you could end up damaging your overall hearing.
The most sophisticated OTC hearing aids do a fairly decent job of indicating on their packaging which frequencies they are boosting. If you are going to try to do it on your own, then you will want to begin with a recent audiogram. Even then, you’re likely better off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is particularly complex, OTC hearing aids may not offer the kind of personalization you’ll need.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Decisions
Consumers have more choices in terms of devices to help with hearing than they ever did before. But it’s also harder to make some decisions because there are so many options. You’ve most likely experienced this kind of “analysis paralysis” when flipping through the channels and attempting to choose something to watch.
You can make some smart choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Make sure you’re not buying a hearing amplifier. It can often be hard to tell the difference. Where a hearing aid will increase only certain wavelengths of sound, a hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on everything. And that can be harmful for your ears over time. Obviously, you only need to boost the wavelengths you have difficulty hearing. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already capable of hearing.
Speak with us. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly beneficial to speak with us first. We can figure out how complex your hearing impairment is with a simple hearing test. An OTC hearing aid might not be a good fit. You will be in a more informed position to choose which option fits your needs when you have an audiogram.
The best option is often not going to be OTC hearing aids. But it’s important to consider that most of these problems can be easily worked out with a little personal education and a professional evaluation. It’s important to take the time to get some help first because hearing is a significant part of your general health.