Over-the-counter hearing aid options are appearing more often online and in stores. These instruments are meant to make it easier to get help for hearing loss. They also may make this type of device more affordable. But medical professionals and even government officials have some serious worries about some of the consequences of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even issuing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re receiving from patients. Some of these concerns are outlined below.
A Hearing Test is Still Needed
The idea that you can just go purchase a hearing aid online or at the store without dealing with essential steps like a hearing test is a significant worry. It will be difficult to recognize what the best plan for your hearing loss is without these steps. Also, your hearing loss might be related to other health problems which you could miss. We can also help you determine what the best settings will be when you come in for a test.
There Are Different Degrees 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. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the effect is instantaneous: the volume quickly goes down.
But adjusting the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like real hearing loss. This occurs because different wavelengths and frequencies are impacted with hearing loss. So you could actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not correctly calibrated.
The most sophisticated OTC hearing aids do a fairly decent job of indicating on their packaging which wavelengths they are amplifying. If you’ve had an audiogram recently you can try to do it on your own. Even then, you’re probably best off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is especially complex, OTC hearing aids might not offer the kind of customization you’ll need.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Choices
Right now, people have the largest selection of hearing aid options ever. But because there are so many choices, it also makes choosing the right one that much harder. 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 smart choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Some amplification devices are marketed to look like hearing aids so be careful of this. One issue that consumers have run into is telling the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. Where a hearing aid will raise only certain frequencies of sound, a hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on everything. And that can be bad for your ears over time. After all, you probably don’t need all frequencies to be boosted, only the ones that you can’t hear currently. If your hearing is poor in the high register, you obviously don’t need to boost the lower frequencies which could harm your hearing.
Keep us involved. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly important to speak with us first. We can figure out how complex your hearing loss is with a simple hearing test. An OTC hearing aid may not be a good fit. You will be in a more informed position to determine which option meets your needs when you have an audiogram.
The best solution is usually not going to be OTC hearing aids. But it’s significant to consider that most of these issues can be simply solved with a little personal education and a professional assessment. Hearing is critical to your over-all health. It’s worth taking the additional step and get evaluated first.