Over-the-counter hearing aid options are showing up more often in stores and online. These instruments are meant to make it easier to get assistance with hearing loss. They also might make this kind 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. Some of these concerns are outlined below.
A Hearing Exam is Still Needed
The idea that you can just go buy a hearing aid online or at the store without dealing with essential steps like a hearing test is a significant concern. Without these steps, it is impossible to know which plan is right for you. You might also miss signs that your hearing loss is linked to other health concerns. Hearing tests also let you know how to program the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is Equal
Generally, people tend to think of hearing loss as a sort of decreasing of the volume meter on your ears. The effect is instantaneous when you do that on your stereo: the volume rapidly goes down.
But real hearing loss is more like fooling around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your audio app on your computer). That’s because hearing loss is generally irregular, impacting this frequency or that wavelength before others. If your hearing aid, OTC or otherwise, is not correctly calibrated for your particular hearing loss, you could end up damaging your entire hearing.
The specific frequencies that are being boosted by the OTC hearing aid will usually be printed on the packaging (at least on higher quality versions). If you’ve had a recent audiogram you can try to do it on your own. And you may still need some help with the programming. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be personalized to the needs of someone that has a more complex type of hearing loss.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Decisions
Consumers have more choices when it comes to devices to help with hearing than at any point in history. But because there are so many choices, it also makes deciding on the right one that much harder. You’ve probably experienced this type of “analysis paralysis” when flipping through the channels and attempting to choose something to watch.
You can make some smart choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Some amplification devices are marketed to look like hearing aids so be cautious of this. One issue that consumers have encountered 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 damage your hearing. Obviously, you only need to increase the frequencies you have trouble hearing. If your hearing is weak in the high register, you obviously don’t require to boost the lower end which could harm your hearing.
Keep us in the loop. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s very important to talk with us first. We can check your hearing to see just how complex your hearing impairment is. It may or may not be a good plan to go with an OTC hearing aid. You will be in a more informed position to decide which solution fits your needs when you get an audiogram.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are often not the best solution. But it’s important to keep in mind that most of these issues can be easily worked out with some personal education and a professional evaluation. Hearing is critical to your over-all health. It’s worth taking the additional step and get examined first.