Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are appearing more often online and in stores. These instruments are meant to make it convenient to get help for hearing loss. They also increase the affordability of hearing help. But medical professionals and even government officials have some significant concerns about some of the repercussions of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even issuing warnings because they have received complaints from people who have used them. Here are just a couple of concerns.
Don’t Overlook a Hearing Test
One main problem with over-the-counter hearing aids is that you skip over important steps in the process, like getting a hearing consultation and hearing examination. Without these steps, it is impossible to know which plan is right for you. Also, your hearing loss may be linked to other health problems which you could miss. Hearing tests also inform you of how to program the device for best results.
There Are Different Levels And Kinds of Hearing Loss
In general, people have a tendency to think of hearing loss as a kind of lowering of the volume meter on your ears. The result is instantaneous when you do that on your stereo: everything goes quiet.
But changing the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like real hearing loss. That’s because hearing loss is generally irregular, impacting this frequency or that wavelength before others. If your hearing aid, over-the-counter or otherwise, is not accurately calibrated for your specific hearing loss, you could wind up damaging your entire hearing.
The more advanced OTC hearing aids do a pretty decent job of indicating on their packaging which frequencies they are boosting. If you have an audiogram recently you can attempt to do it by yourself. And you may still need some assistance with the programming. When your hearing loss is especially complex, OTC hearing aids might not offer the kind of customization you’ll need.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Decisions
People have more choices when it comes to devices to help with hearing than they ever did before. But because there are so many options, it also makes choosing the right one that much more difficult. This is called analysis paralysis, you likely experience it most acutely when you’re trying to find something to watch on Netflix.
You can make some good choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Some amplification devices are advertised to look like hearing aids so be cautious of this. It can often be challenging to tell the difference. Where a hearing aid will increase only certain wavelengths of sound, a hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on everything. And over time, that can damage your hearing. After all, you likely don’t need all frequencies to be boosted, just the ones that you can’t hear currently. Making sounds universally loud will dull the sounds you’re already capable of hearing.
Keep us in the loop. It’s really important to have an assessment with us whichever way you choose to go. We can check your hearing to see exactly how complex your hearing impairment is. It may or may not be a good strategy to go with an OTC hearing aid. You will be in a more informed position to determine which solution fits your needs when you have an audiogram.
The best option is often not going to be OTC hearing aids. But with some professional help and education, most of these challenges can be conquered. Hearing is critical to your general health. It’s worth taking the extra step and get evaluated first.