Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are appearing more frequently in stores and online. Getting help for hearing loss is meant to be easier with these instruments. They also maximize the affordability of hearing assistance. But medical experts and even government officials have some serious worries about some of the repercussions of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even issuing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re receiving from patients. Here are just a couple of concerns.
A Hearing Exam is Still Important
The idea that you can just go get a hearing aid online or at the store without going through essential steps like a hearing test is a serious worry. It will be hard to recognize what the correct solution for your hearing loss is without these steps. Additionally, your hearing loss may be connected to other health problems which you could miss. Hearing tests also inform you of how to set up the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is The Same
Many people think that hearing loss is just a reduction 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: everything gets quiet.
But real hearing loss is more like playing around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your music app on your computer). That’s because hearing loss is generally irregular, affecting this frequency or that wavelength before others. So you may actually be doing further damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not precisely calibrated.
The more advanced OTC hearing aids do a fairly good job of indicating on their packaging which wavelengths they are boosting. If you are going to try 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. When your hearing loss is particularly complex, OTC hearing aids might not provide 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 options ever. But because there are so many choices, it also makes choosing the right one that much more difficult. You’ve most likely experienced this type of “analysis paralysis” when flipping through the channels and trying to pick something to watch.
You can make some good choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Some amplification devices are marketed to resemble hearing aids so be cautious of this. One problem that customers have encountered 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 turn up the volume on everything. And that can be bad for your ears in the long run. Obviously, you only need to increase the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already capable of hearing.
Keep us involved. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly important to speak with us first. We can find out how complex your hearing impairment is with a simple hearing test. An OTC hearing aid might not be a good fit. We can also provide you with an audiogram, so you’ll be capable of choosing the correct solution for your needs.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are frequently not the ideal solution. But with some professional help and education, most of these challenges can be conquered. Hearing is critical to your over-all health. It’s worth taking the extra step and get evaluated first.