Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are appearing more often online and in stores. These devices are meant to make it easier to get assistance with hearing loss. They also might make this type of device more affordable. Unfortunately, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused quite a bit of worry from both medical professionals and the government. Some states are even issuing warnings because they have received complaints from individuals who have used them. Some of these concerns are discussed below.
A Hearing Experiment is Still Important
The concept that you can just go purchase a hearing aid at the store or online without dealing with important steps like a hearing exam is a serious worry. Without these steps, it is impossible to know which plan is correct for you. You may also fail to recognize signs that your hearing loss is related to other health concerns. Hearing tests also let you know how to set up the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is Identical
Most people think that hearing loss is simply a reduction of the volume of sounds you hear. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the result is immediate: everything goes quiet.
But adjusting the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like actual hearing loss. That’s because hearing loss is usually asymmetrical, impacting this frequency or that wavelength before others. So you may actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not correctly calibrated.
The exact frequencies that are being amplified by the OTC hearing aid will typically be printed on the packaging (at least on higher quality versions). If you have a recent audiogram you can try to do it by yourself. Even then, you’re likely best off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is especially complex, OTC hearing aids may not provide the kind of personalization you’ll need.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Decisions
Right now, consumers have the widest array of hearing aid options ever. But because there are so many choices, it also makes deciding on the right one that much harder. This is known as analysis paralysis, you probably experience it most acutely when you’re attempting to find something to watch on Netflix.
Here are a couple of ways you can make some practical choices with your hearing aids:
Some amplification devices are marketed to look like hearing aids so be cautious of this. One issue that consumers have run into is recognizing the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. A hearing amplifier will turn the volume up on all wavelengths of sound, not just distinct frequencies like a hearing aid can. And that can be harmful for your ears in the long run. After all, you likely don’t require all frequencies to be boosted, just the ones that you can’t hear right now. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already capable of hearing.
Speak with us. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s very important to speak with us first. We can find out how complex your hearing impairment is with a simple hearing test. An OTC hearing aid might not be a good match. You will be in a more informed position to choose which option meets your needs when you have an audiogram.
The best choice is usually not going to be OTC hearing aids. But it’s important to keep in mind that most of these problems can be simply solved with some personal education and a professional assessment. Hearing is critical to your general health. It’s worth taking the additional step and get evaluated first.