Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are showing up more often online and in stores. Getting help for hearing loss is supposed to be easier with these devices. They also increase the affordability of hearing assistance. But medical experts and even government officials have some serious concerns about some of the repercussions of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even releasing warnings because they have taken complaints from people who have used them. Some of these concerns are outlined below.
A Hearing Test is Still Important
The idea that you can just go buy a hearing aid at the store or online without dealing with important steps like a hearing test is a significant worry. Without these steps, you can’t really know which plan is correct for you. You might also miss signs that your hearing loss is related to other health concerns. We can also help you determine what the best settings will be when you come in for a test.
There Are Different Levels And Kinds of Hearing Loss
Generally, people have a tendency to think of hearing loss as a sort of decreasing of the volume meter on your ears. The effect is immediate when you do that on your stereo: the volume rapidly decreases.
But actual hearing loss is more like messing around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your audio app on your computer). That’s because hearing loss is generally asymmetrical, impacting this frequency or that wavelength before others. If your hearing aid, over-the-counter or otherwise, is not accurately calibrated for your specific hearing loss, you could wind up damaging your entire hearing.
The particular 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 are going to attempt to do it by yourself, then you will want to start with a recent audiogram. Even then, you’re likely better off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is especially complex, OTC hearing aids may not provide the kind of customization you’ll need.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Choices
Right now, consumers have the largest selection of hearing aid options ever. But because there are so many options, it also makes choosing the right one that much more difficult. You’ve probably experienced this kind of “analysis paralysis” when flipping through the channels and trying to pick something to watch.
Here are a couple of ways you can make some wise choices with your hearing aids:
Some amplification devices are advertised to look like hearing aids so be cautious of this. One problem 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 does. And that can be bad for your ears in the long run. Obviously, you only need to boost the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already capable of hearing.
Keep us involved. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly important to talk with us first. We can check your hearing to see just how complex your hearing impairment is. An OTC hearing aid might not be a good match. You will be in a better position to choose which solution meets your needs when you have an audiogram.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are frequently not the ideal choice. But with some professional assistance and education, most of these difficulties can be conquered. Hearing is critical to your general health. It’s worth taking the extra step and get examined first.