Over-the-counter hearing aid options are showing up more often online and in stores. Getting help for hearing loss is meant to be easier with these devices. They also maximize the affordability of hearing assistance. But medical experts and even government officials have some significant worries about some of the consequences of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even issuing warnings because they have received complaints from individuals who have used them. Some of these concerns are discussed below.
Don’t Skip a Hearing Examination
The idea that you can just go get a hearing aid online or at the store without going through essential steps like a hearing exam is a significant worry. It will be impossible to recognize what the correct solution for your hearing loss is without these steps. You may also miss signs that your hearing loss is linked to other health concerns. Hearing tests also let you know how to set up the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is The Same
In general, people tend to think of hearing loss as a kind of decreasing of the volume meter on your ears. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the result is instantaneous: the volume quickly decreases.
But real hearing loss is more like messing around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your music app on your computer). That’s because hearing loss is usually asymmetrical, influencing 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 overall hearing.
The particular frequencies that are being amplified by the OTC hearing aid will typically be printed on the packaging (at least on higher quality versions). If you’ve had a recent audiogram you can try to do it on your own. Even then, you’re likely best off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is especially complex, OTC hearing aids might not provide the kind of personalization you’ll need.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Decisions
People have more options in terms of devices to help with hearing than at any point in history. But because there are so many options, it also makes deciding on the right one that much harder. You’ve most likely experienced this kind of “analysis paralysis” when flipping through the channels and attempting to pick something to watch.
Here are a couple of ways you can make some wise decisions with your hearing aids:
Make sure you aren’t buying a hearing amplifier. It can often be hard to tell the difference. A hearing amplifier will turn the volume up on all wavelengths of sound, not just distinct frequencies like a hearing aid does. And that can be harmful for your ears in the long run. After all, you likely don’t need all frequencies to be louder, just the ones that you can’t hear currently. If your hearing is weak in the high register, you obviously don’t require to boost the lower end which could damage your hearing.
Speak with 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. It may or may not be a good strategy to choose an OTC hearing aid. You will be in a more informed position to decide which option meets your needs when you have an audiogram.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are frequently not the ideal choice. But with a little professional help and knowledge, most of these difficulties can be overcome. It’s important to take the time to get some help first because hearing is an important part of your general health.