The Trouble With Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids

Man gets over-the-counter hearing aids without getting a hearing test.

We’re seeing more examples, on TV and online, of over-the-counter hearing aids. These instruments are meant to make it easier to get assistance with hearing loss. They also might make this type of device more affordable. But medical experts and even government officials have some serious worries about some of the consequences of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even releasing warnings because they have received complaints from people who have used them. Here are just a few concerns.

Don’t Miss a Hearing Exam

One main concern of over-the-counter hearing aids is that you skip over important steps in the process, like getting a hearing evaluation and hearing test. Without these steps, it’s impossible to know which plan is correct for you. Additionally, your hearing loss might be related to other health concerns which you could miss. Hearing tests also inform you of how to set up the device for best results.

There Are Different Levels And Kinds of Hearing Loss

Many people think that hearing loss is just a lowering of the volume of sounds you hear. The result is immediate when you do that on your stereo: the volume quickly goes down.

But adjusting the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like actual hearing loss. That’s because hearing loss tends to be asymmetrical, affecting this frequency or that wavelength before others. If your hearing aid, OTC or otherwise, is not precisely calibrated for your specific hearing loss, you could wind up damaging your overall hearing.

The particular frequencies that are being boosted by the OTC hearing aid will usually be printed on the box (at least on higher quality versions). If you are going to attempt to do it on your own, then you will want to start with a recent audiogram. And you may still require some help with the programming. When your hearing loss is particularly complex, OTC hearing aids may not offer the kind of customization you’ll need.

Making Smart Hearing Aid Choices

Right now, people have the largest selection of hearing aid choices ever. But it’s also more challenging to make some decisions because there are so many options. This is known as analysis paralysis, you probably experience it most intensely when you’re attempting to find something to watch on Netflix.

Here are a couple of ways you can make some wise choices with your hearing aids:

Make sure you aren’t purchasing a hearing amplifier. It can often be difficult to tell the difference. A hearing amplifier will turn the volume up on all frequencies of sound, not just specific frequencies like a hearing aid does. And that can be harmful for your ears over time. Obviously, you only need to boost the frequencies you have trouble hearing. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already able to hear.

Keep us involved. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly beneficial to talk with us first. We can figure out how complex your hearing loss is with a simple hearing test. An OTC hearing aid might not be a good match. We can also provide you with an audiogram, so you’ll be able to choose the correct strategy for your needs.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are frequently not the best choice. But it’s important to remember that most of these issues can be easily worked out with a little personal education and a professional evaluation. It’s beneficial to take the time to get some assistance first because hearing is a significant part of your overall health.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.