We all love convenience. So it’s easy to realize the appeal of hearing aids that you can buy at your local store or pharmacy. Instant gratification with no fitting and no waiting. But we might need to investigate this rosy vision of the future a bit more.
Store bought hearing aids might start appearing in stores near you so a bit of caution is needed. And in order to know all of the facts, a lot of the responsibility falls on the consumer. Those decisions have fairly high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could pay the price. But great responsibility comes with great convenience.
Over The Counter Hearing Aids – What Are They?
Over the counter hearing aids, in some ways, have similarities with other kinds of hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds in order to correct for the effects of hearing loss. In this way, OTC hearing aids are better than they once were.
But it’s a little more complicated than buying, say, a bottle of aspirin. Here’s how it should work:
- You should get a hearing assessment and receive an audiogram.
- Your audiogram would give you an indication of your general hearing health, including what frequencies of sound you need help hearing.
- Your specific hearing loss parameters will determine what the correct solution should be. The truth is that some types of hearing loss can’t be sufficiently managed with over-the-counter devices. Even if your specific type of hearing loss can be treated in this way, you still need to select one that will work best for your scenario.
This strategy should, at least in theory, allow you to pick the proper device for your hearing loss situation. The real problems can begin when you actually visit your local store to try and buy the correct device for you.
The Responsibility Part
Theoretically, this most likely all sounds pretty great. For some, OTC hearing aids will decrease the costs involved and let more people enjoy healthier hearing. But we weren’t kidding around when we said it puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
Consumers will lose out on the following things if they decide to go from their audiogram to an OTC hearing aid:
- Advice: Even though they are tiny, hearing devices can be challenging to program. How to care for your hearing aid, how to use it efficiently, and how to adjust to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
- Adjustments: We can make several types of adjustments that can help your hearing aid function better in a variety of common environments. You can have presets that help you hear in quiet environments and other presets for louder scenarios like crowded restaurants. This kind of fine-tuning can be essential to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- A better selection: We can fit you with one of the various styles of hearing aids that we offer at a variety of price points programmed to your particular hearing needs.
- Testing: When you get fitted for a hearing aid, we will also verify it’s functionality. You can be certain that your hearing aid is working the way it was meant for you because we test it when you’re in the office.
- A good fit: You can get guidance with style and fit when you go through us. To ensure maximum comfort and a custom fit a mold of your ear can sometimes be made. Getting a good fit will help make sure that you are comfortable enough to wear it every day. Fit also impacts your ability to hear. If the device is too loose in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to get feedback.
When you come see us for some hearing guidance, these are just some of the things we will help you with.
We aren’t saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are bad. It’s just that you should use a bit of caution when making your choices, and in conjunction with getting the technology you want, including your hearing specialist will help you receive the care you need.