We all love convenience. So if you’re able to go to your local store and buy some hearing aids, it’s not hard to understand how this would seem appealing. Instant gratification with no waiting and no fitting. But we may need to investigate this rosy vision of the future a bit more.
A little caution is important because over-the-counter hearing aids may start popping up in stores around you. And that puts a lot of burden on consumers like you to understand what’s what. If you don’t get it right your hearing could pay the price which makes the stakes for these decisions very high. So, with great convenience comes great responsibility.
What’s an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
To some degree, an over-the-counter hearing aid has similarities with other hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds in order to compensate for the effects of hearing loss. OTC hearing aids, in this way, have improved somewhat.
But it’s a bit more complicated than getting, say, a bottle of aspirin. It should work like this:
- You should have an audiogram which you will get when you have a hearing assessment.
- Your general hearing health, specifically what frequency you’re having a difficult time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- Your distinct hearing loss criteria will determine what the proper solution should be. In truth, over the counter hearing aids can’t properly treat all types of hearing impairment. Even if your distinct type of hearing loss can be treated in this way, you still need to decide on one that will work best for your scenario.
In theory, this strategy will help you choose a hearing device that’s right for your amount of hearing loss and that will function well in all conditions. That doesn’t always mean your local store will have that device in stock, however, and close enough isn’t sufficient with regards to your hearing.
The Responsibility Part
This all seems pretty great, in theory. For some, OTC hearing aids will cut down on the costs involved and let more people enjoy healthier hearing. But we weren’t kidding around when we said it puts a large amount of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
When a consumer goes straight from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, this is what they lose out on:
- Testing: Fittings also guarantee that the hearing aid is working the way that it should. You can be sure that your hearing aid is functioning the way it was meant for you because it’s tested when you’re in the office.
- A better selection: We offer a wide variety of hearing aids, at different price points, that can be programmed to your hearing loss.
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be fine-tuned so it will function effectively in several common situations. As an example, we can program settings for loud places like restaurants and settings for quiet spaces. This type of fine-tuning can be essential to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- A good fit: We help you pick out a design and fit of hearing aid that will feel comfortable in your ears. To ensure maximum comfort and a custom fit a mold of your ear can sometimes be made. Getting a good fit will help make sure that you are comfortable enough to wear it every day. Fit also affects your ability to hear. You’ll be more likely to experience feedback if the device is loose in your ear.
- Advice: Even though they are tiny, hearing devices can be complicated to program. How to care for your hearing aid, how to use it efficiently, and how to adjust to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
When you come see us for some hearing advice, these are just some of the things we will help you with.
We aren’t saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are bad. It’s just that you need to use a bit of caution when making your selection, and in conjunction with getting the technology you want, keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will help you receive the care you need.