Remember when you used to be able to get those gallon buckets of ice cream at the grocery store? An entire gallon of ice cream, yum!
But as you grow up, you start to get a bit more particular. You begin going for the more specialized ice cream: the Turkey Hill, the Tillamook, the Ben & Jerry’s. All of a sudden, those littler containers are the ones that are appealing.
Still, if you’re hosting a big dinner party, you’re likely to go for those generic Kemp’s ice cream buckets. Which means that each type of ice cream has its own unique strengths and drawbacks. In some situations, you will want to go for the specialized option, and in others, the generic will be a better solution.
Of course, we’re also talking about hearing aids here. How good are those new over-the-counter hearing aids? Well, it’s a lot like that ice cream: it depends on what your plans are.
Hearing loss can have significant impacts
Your day-to-day life can be significantly effected by hearing loss. Social solitude that frequently comes along with hearing loss can cause you to abstain from having conversations because you’re unable to hear what others are saying.
This can cause you to feel distant from your friends and family. When you go to the supermarket you use self-checkout so you can avoid the cashiers. It’s lonely. And it can lead to a faster mental decline as you get older.
So it isn’t simply that you can’t hear what your family and friends are saying, but you could also be enhancing your risk of other potentially serious health issues.
Over-the-counter hearing aids – how they function
It’s not difficult to recognize why people would want to go towards hearing aids that can be bought easily, given the health repercussions of hearing loss.
By their nature, over-the-counter hearing aids are made to be convenient. You simply go into your local pharmacy and you never have to schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. You pick up a pair of these devices, pay for them, and head home. They essentially amplify all of the sound around you.
This can have a profoundly positive affect on your life.
In some circumstances over-the-counter hearing aids can work
Over-the-counter hearing aids started to appear on store shelves in late 2022 after the Food and Drug Administration made rule changes that allowed for their wider distribution. The rule change focused on getting hearing aids to more people who really need them for their neglected hearing loss.
You’ve always had to go through somewhat of a process to acquire prescription hearing aids. Many individuals, sadly, feel intimidated by this process so they stay away from it. For people who aren’t quite ready to make that leap, over-the-counter hearing aids could be a good alternative. But over-the-counter hearing aids weren’t manufactured to replace their prescription counterparts.
Unfortunately, this means that consumers now bear some of the burden of determining when OTC hearing aids are a good fit (and when they aren’t).
What’s the essential difference between over-the-counter and prescription hearing aids?
As a general rule, prescription hearing aids are more powerful and have much more personalized functions than OTC hearing aids. They won’t be personalized to your specific requirements and they won’t fit as well.
So, are over-the-counter hearing aids any good at all? There actually can be some benefits to an OTC in certain circumstances. An OTC hearing aid might work best for you if:
- You want a spare set in case of emergencies.
- You’re never going to get your hearing checked. (You definitely should. But we also understand that some individuals just never will.) Usually, using an OTC hearing aid will be better than using nothing.
- Your hearing specialist is recommending an OTC. (For optimum results, ask your hearing specialist to address settings and style types that might work best for you.)
- You have very simple or early-stage hearing loss. For mild cases of hearing loss, these devices will work just fine.
Usually, OTC hearing aids are sold with certain presets already in place. If your hearing loss is in the lower wavelengths, some models will be the right choice and if you have high-frequency hearing loss other designs will be the best choice. (So before you buy a hearing aid, you should certainly get a better concept of your level and type of hearing loss.).
OTC hearing aids are frequently not the best choice
So are there negative aspects to OTC hearing aids? Will you experience undesirable effects from OTC hearing aids?
Well, let’s just say that OTC hearing aids aren’t a great fit for everyone in every circumstance. Generally, OTC hearing aids may not be the right solution for you if:
- OTC hearing aids are not custom fit the way you might need them to be. A custom fit is sometimes necessary for some people and OTC hearing aids don’t allow for this.
- You don’t know precisely which hearing aid to buy: The wrong hearing aids can actually make your hearing worse for someone with hearing loss. (It’s not much different than if you crank your earbuds up to a really loud setting.)
- You need to hear in complex or noisy environments. Most prescription hearing aids can be customized depending on what you need to hear and where you need to hear it.
- Is the money you spent really worth it if that OTC hearing aid is that much lower in power?
- You’re only considering OTC hearing aids because you think they cost a lot less. OTC hearing aids are usually almost as costly as their prescription-only alternative.
- Your hearing loss has advanced to a fairly profound stage. While OTC hearing aids can be good for less significant hearing loss, severe hearing loss will need something more powerful and more refined.
What are the dangers of over-the-counter hearing aids? Generally speaking, if you aren’t a good candidate for OTC hearing aids, you could be throwing some money away or making your hearing loss worse.
Either way, you should consult a hearing specialist
For some individuals, OTC hearing aids will be fine, but for others, prescription hearing aids will be needed. But either way, making an appointment can help your hearing aids work better.
You will be capable of getting better treatment when you know more about your hearing loss. Whether your hearing loss requires prescription hearing aids or OTC hearing aids, we can help you get the best treatment for your situation.
Similarly, we can help you better adapt to a new set of hearing aids, and get the most out of the technology.
Make an appointment with us so we can help you determine what hearing aid type is right for you.