We’re observing more examples, online and on TV, of over-the-counter hearing aids. These devices are meant to make it convenient to get assistance with hearing loss. They also may make this kind of device more affordable. But medical experts and even government officials have some serious concerns 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 Exam is Still Needed
The concept that you can just go buy a hearing aid at the store or online without dealing with important steps like a hearing exam is a serious worry. It will be hard to identify what the right plan for your hearing loss is without these steps. Additionally, your hearing loss might be connected to other health concerns which you could miss. We can also help you figure out what the best settings will be when you come in for a test.
There Are Different Degrees And Types of Hearing Loss
Most people think that hearing loss is just a lowering of the volume of sounds you hear. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the effect is instantaneous: the volume rapidly goes down.
But actual hearing loss is more like fooling around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your music app on your computer). This develops because different wavelengths and frequencies are effected with hearing loss. If your hearing aid, OTC or otherwise, is not correctly calibrated for your particular hearing loss, you could wind up damaging your entire hearing.
The exact frequencies that are being boosted by the OTC hearing aid will usually be printed on the box (at least on higher quality versions). If you are going to attempt to do it by yourself, then you will want to begin with a recent audiogram. Even then, you’re likely best off asking us to help program it. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be customized to the requirements of someone that has a more complex kind of hearing loss.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Decisions
Consumers have more choices when it comes to devices to help with hearing than at any point in history. But because there are so many choices, it also makes deciding on the right one that much more difficult. This is called analysis paralysis, you likely experience it most intensely when you’re attempting 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 resemble hearing aids so be careful of this. It can often be hard to tell the difference. A hearing amplifier will turn the volume up on all frequencies of sound, not just specific frequencies like a hearing aid does. And that can be harmful for your ears in the long run. After all, you probably don’t require all frequencies to be louder, only the ones that you can’t hear currently. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already capable of hearing.
Talk to us. It’s very important to have an evaluation with us whichever way you choose to go. We can test your hearing to see just how complex your hearing impairment is. An OTC hearing aid may not be a good match. We can also do an audiogram, so you’ll be able to choose the correct solution for your needs.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are frequently not the best solution. But it’s important to consider that most of these issues can be simply worked out with a little personal education and a professional evaluation. It’s important to take the time to get some help first because hearing is an important part of your general health.