Convenience is something we all enjoy. So it’s easy to comprehend the appeal of hearing aids that you can get at your local store or pharmacy. No fitting, no waiting, just instant gratification. But this positive vision of the future could call for further investigation.
Over the counter hearing aids may start appearing in stores near you so a bit of caution is needed. And that puts lots of responsibility on consumers like you to know what’s what. If you don’t get it right your hearing could pay the price which makes the stakes for these decisions very high. But great responsibility comes with great convenience.
What Is an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
Over the counter hearing aids, in some ways, have similarities with other types of hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds in order to compensate for the effects of hearing loss. In this manner, OTC hearing aids are of a higher quality than they used to be.
But the process of choosing an OTC hearing aid is a bit more complicated than buying a bottle of ibuprofen. Here’s how it should work:
- You need an audiogram which you will get when you have a hearing assessment.
- Your general hearing health, particularly what frequency you’re having a difficult time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- Your specific hearing loss parameters will determine what the correct solution should be. The fact is, over the counter hearing aids can’t effectively treat all kinds of hearing impairment. Even if your specific form of hearing loss can be addressed in this way, you still need to choose one that will work best for your scenario.
Theoretically, this strategy will help you pick a hearing device that’s right for your amount of hearing loss and that will perform well in all conditions. That doesn’t necessarily mean your local pharmacy will have that device in stock, however, and close enough isn’t good enough when it comes to your hearing.
The Part About Responsibility
In theory, this most likely all sounds pretty great. For some, OTC hearing aids will reduce the costs involved and let more people enjoy healthier hearing. But we weren’t joking when we said it places a large amount of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
When a consumer goes right from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, this is what they miss out on:
- Adjustments: We can make a few kinds of adjustments that can help your hearing aid function better in a variety of common settings. You can have presets that help you hear in quiet environments and other presets for louder scenarios like crowded restaurants. This kind of fine-tuning can be essential to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- Advice: Hearing aids can be complicated to program even though they’re tiny. How to care for your hearing aid, how to use it efficiently, and how to adjust to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
- A better selection: We can fit you with one of the numerous kinds of hearing aids that we offer at various price points programmed to your specific hearing needs.
- A good fit: You can get guidance with style and fit when you go through us. In some cases, a mold of your ear will be taken to assure a custom fit and maximum comfort. Achieving a good fit will help make sure that you are comfortable enough to wear it every day. Your ability to hear is also affected by fit. If the device doesn’t fit tightly in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to have feedback.
- Testing: When you get fitted for a hearing aid, we will also verify it’s functionality. You can be certain that your hearing aid is functioning the way it was meant for you because we test it when you’re in the office.
When you come see us for some hearing advice, these are just some of the things we will help you with.
We’re not saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are bad. It’s just that you need to use a little bit of caution when making your selection, and keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will be a smart way to make sure you’re getting the care you require in conjunction with the technology you want.