Over-the-counter hearing aid options are showing up more frequently online and in stores. Getting help for hearing loss is meant to be easier with these instruments. They also might make this type of device more affordable. However, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused quite a bit of worry from 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 concern of over-the-counter hearing aids is that you neglect essential steps in the process, like having a hearing consultation and hearing exam. It will be hard to know what the right plan for your hearing loss is without these steps. 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 The Same
Many people think that hearing loss is simply a lowering of the volume of sounds you hear. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the effect is instantaneous: the volume quickly 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). This occurs because different wavelengths and frequencies are impacted with hearing loss. So you may actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not precisely calibrated.
The specific frequencies that are being boosted by the OTC hearing aid will usually be printed on the box (at least on higher quality models). If you have an audiogram recently you can try to do it on your own. And you may still need some help with the programming. When your hearing loss is particularly complex, OTC hearing aids might not offer the kind of customization you’ll need.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Decisions
At this point in history, 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 harder. You’ve probably 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 wise choices with your hearing aids:
Some amplification devices are advertised to resemble hearing aids so be careful of this. One problem that people have run into is telling the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. Where a hearing aid will boost only certain wavelengths of sound, a hearing amplifier will just turn the volume up on everything. And that can be harmful for your ears in the long run. After all, you likely don’t require all frequencies to be louder, only the ones that you can’t hear right now. If your hearing is weak in the high register, you obviously don’t need to boost the lower frequencies which could damage your hearing.
Speak with us. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly beneficial to speak with us first. We can check your hearing to see just how complex your hearing loss is. An OTC hearing aid may not be a good fit. We can also provide you with an audiogram, so you’ll be able to choose the right strategy for your requirements.
The best solution is often not going to be OTC hearing aids. But with some professional help and knowledge, most of these challenges can be conquered. Hearing is crucial to your over-all health. It’s worth taking the extra step and get evaluated first.