Over-the-counter hearing aid options are appearing more often online and in stores. Getting help for hearing loss is meant to be easier with these devices. They also increase the affordability of hearing help. However, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused quite a bit of worry among both medical professionals and the government. Some states are even issuing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re receiving from patients. Here are just a few concerns.
A Hearing Exam is Still Important
One main problem with over-the-counter hearing aids is that you neglect important steps in the process, like having a hearing consultation and hearing exam. Without these steps, it is impossible to know which solution is right for you. Additionally, your hearing loss might be linked to other health concerns which you could miss. Hearing tests also inform you of how to program the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is Equal
Many people think that hearing loss is just a lowering of the volume of sounds you hear. The result is instantaneous when you do that on your stereo: everything goes quiet.
But actual hearing loss is more like playing around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your music app on your computer). This occurs because different wavelengths and frequencies are effected with hearing loss. So you could actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not precisely calibrated.
The more advanced OTC hearing aids do a pretty decent job of indicating on their packaging which wavelengths they are boosting. If you have an audiogram recently you can attempt to do it by yourself. Even then, you’re probably better off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is particularly complex, OTC hearing aids may not provide the kind of personalization you’ll need.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Choices
At this point in history, consumers have the widest array of hearing aid choices ever. But because there are so many options, it also makes choosing the right one that much more difficult. You’ve most likely experienced this type of “analysis paralysis” when flipping through the channels and attempting to pick something to watch.
Here are a few ways you can make some practical decisions with your hearing aids:
Make sure you’re not buying a hearing amplifier. One problem that people have run into is telling the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. A hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on all wavelengths of sound, not just distinct frequencies like a hearing aid can. And over time, that can impair your hearing. Obviously, you only need to boost the wavelengths you have difficulty hearing. Making sounds universally loud will dull the sounds you’re already capable of hearing.
Keep us involved. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly important to speak with us first. We can find out how complex your hearing impairment is with a basic hearing test. An OTC hearing aid may not be a good fit. You will be in a more informed position to decide which option meets your needs when you have an audiogram.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are frequently not the best solution. But with a little professional help and education, most of these challenges can be conquered. Hearing is essential to your over-all health. It’s worth taking the extra step and get examined first.