Do you recall those gallon buckets of ice cream you used to find at supermarkets? As a kid, they were the best thing ever because they offered an entire gallon of ice cream, that’s a lot of frozen custard and high-fructose corn syrup!
But as you grow up, you start to get a little more particular. Your ice cream tastes get more specialized and you have a tendency to opt for your favorite brand. Those smaller containers start to become more enticing.
But you will still probably go for that big bucket if you’re having a big dinner party. Which means that each kind of ice cream has its own unique strengths and drawbacks. Generic is good in certain situations, but you might want more specific ice cream in other circumstances.
Of course, we’re also referring to hearing aids here. Are newer over-the-counter hearing aids any good? Well, much like our ice cream example, it depends on what you want to do.
Hearing loss can have significant affects
Your day-to-day life can be seriously impacted by hearing loss. Social solitude that often accompanies hearing loss can cause you to avoid having conversations because you can’t hear what others are saying.
This can make you feel removed from your family and friends. When you go to the supermarket you use self-checkout so you can avoid the cashiers. It’s lonely. And it can bring about a faster mental decline as you get older.
So it isn’t only that you can’t hear what your family and friends are saying, but you could also be increasing your chances of other potentially severe health issues.
How do over-the-counter hearing aids function?
Given the harm that hearing loss can cause, it’s not very difficult to recognize the attraction of hearing aids that are easy to purchase.
Convenience is the very backbone of the appeal of over-the-counter hearing aids. Instead of going to see a hearing specialist and getting fitted for hearing aids, you just walk into your local pharmacy. You grab a set of these devices, pay for them, and head home. Once you put them in, they work to boost the sound around you.
Your life can be significantly and positively influenced by this.
In some situations over-the-counter hearing aids can work
In 2022 the Food and Drug Administration changed the rule about the sale of hearing aids that allowed stores including pharmacies to sell them. The rule change aimed at getting hearing aids to more people who really need them for their neglected hearing loss.
You’ve always had to go through somewhat of a process to acquire prescription hearing aids. And sometimes, that process can keep people away. Over-the-counter hearing aids may not be a bad option for people who just aren’t ready to deal with the process. But over-the-counter hearing aids weren’t designed to take the place of their prescription counterparts.
Sadly, this means that individuals now bear some of the burden of determining when OTC hearing aids are a good choice (and when they aren’t).
How are OTC hearing aids different than prescription hearing aids?
As a general rule, prescription hearing aids are more powerful and have a lot more customizable features than OTC hearing aids. They will also not fit quite as well, and they won’t be customized to your needs.
So, are over-the-counter hearing aids any good at all? Well, yes, in certain circumstances. An OTC hearing aid may work best for you if:
- You’re never going to get your hearing checked. (You definitely should. But we also understand that some people simply never will.) An OTC hearing aid is generally better than no hearing aid at all.
- Your hearing loss is in the early stages and is really simple. For mild instances of hearing loss, these devices will work just fine.
- You keep a pair on hand just in case your prescription hearing aids need to go in for maintenance.
- You’ve consulted your hearing specialist, and they endorse using an OTC hearing aid. (For optimum outcomes, ask your hearing specialist to address settings and style types that might work best for you.)
It’s fairly common for OTC presets to be pre-programmed when you buy them. If your hearing loss is in the lower frequencies, some types will be the right choice and if you have high-frequency hearing loss other models will be the best option. (So before you invest in a hearing aid, you should definitely get a better concept of your level and type of hearing loss.).
OTC hearing aids are frequently not the right choice
So, what are the disadvantages of over-the-counter hearing aids? Are there adverse side effects of over-the-counter hearing aids?
Well every situation won’t include OTC hearing aids, let’s just say. OTC hearing will not be the best option for you if:
- Exactly which hearing aid to purchase is still unknown to you: The wrong hearing aids can actually make your hearing worse for somebody with hearing loss. (It’s not a lot different than if you crank your earbuds up to a really loud setting.)
- You have more profound hearing loss. While OTC hearing aids can be helpful for less significant hearing loss, severe hearing loss will need something more powerful and more refined.
- OTC hearing aids aren’t custom fit the way you might need them to be. A custom fit is frequently necessary for some individuals and OTC hearing aids don’t allow for this.
- When you’re in challenging and noisy spaces, you need to be able to hear. Depending on what surroundings you need to hear in and precisely what you’re listening to, prescription hearing aids can be personalized for those situations.
- You think OTC hearing aids will save you a lot of money. OTC hearing aids are frequently nearly as expensive as their prescription-only counterparts.
- Is the money you spent really worth it if that OTC hearing aid is that much lower in power?
Are there any risks that come with OTC hearing aids? Generally speaking, if you aren’t a good fit for OTC hearing aids, you could be throwing some money away or making your hearing loss worse.
Either way, you should consult a hearing specialist
OTC hearing aids are suitable for some people and prescription hearing aids are the best choice for others. But either way, scheduling an appointment can help your hearing aids work better.
That’s because knowing more about your hearing loss will help you find a better treatment. We can help steer you toward the best hearing aid for your situation, whether it’s OTC or prescription.
In the same way, we can help you better adjust to a new pair of hearing aids, and get the most out of the technology.
Make an appointment with us so we can help you find out what hearing aid type is best for you.