Over-the-counter hearing aid options are appearing more frequently online and in stores. These devices are meant to make it easier to get assistance with hearing loss. They also increase the affordability of hearing assistance. Unfortunately, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused quite a bit of worry among both medical professionals and the government. Some states are even releasing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re receiving from patients. Here are just a few concerns.
A Hearing Experiment is Still Important
One main concern of over-the-counter hearing aids is that you neglect necessary steps in the process, like having a hearing evaluation and hearing exam. Without these steps, you can’t really know which plan is correct for you. Additionally, your hearing loss may be linked to other health concerns which you could miss. Hearing tests also let you know how to set up the device for best results.
There Are Different Levels And Types of Hearing Loss
Most people think that hearing loss is simply a lowering of the volume of sounds you hear. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the result is immediate: the volume quickly decreases.
But actual hearing loss is more like messing around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your audio app on your computer). This happens because different wavelengths and frequencies are effected with hearing loss. So you may actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not correctly calibrated.
The more advanced OTC hearing aids do a fairly good job of indicating on their packaging which frequencies they are amplifying. If you’ve had a recent audiogram you can try to do it on your own. Even then, you’re likely better off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is especially complex, OTC hearing aids might not offer the kind of personalization you’ll need.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Decisions
At this point in history, people have the widest array of hearing aid choices ever. But it’s also more challenging to make some decisions because there are so many choices. You’ve most likely experienced this kind of “analysis paralysis” when flipping through the channels and trying to choose something to watch.
Here are a couple of ways you can make some smart decisions with your hearing aids:
Some amplification devices are marketed to look like hearing aids so be careful of this. One issue that consumers have run into is recognizing the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. Where a hearing aid will boost only certain wavelengths of sound, a hearing amplifier will just turn the volume up on everything. And that can be harmful for your ears over time. After all, you probably don’t need all frequencies to be louder, only the ones that you can’t hear currently. If your hearing is poor in the high register, you obviously don’t require to boost the lower end which could damage your hearing.
Talk to us. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s very important to talk with us first. We can find out how complex your hearing loss is with a simple hearing test. It may or may not be a good strategy to choose an OTC hearing aid. You will be in a better position to choose which option fits your needs when you get an audiogram.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are frequently not the best choice. But it’s important to consider that most of these issues can be easily solved with some personal education and a professional evaluation. It’s important to take the time to get some assistance first because hearing is a significant part of your general health.