Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are appearing more often in stores and online. These devices are meant to make it easier to get assistance with hearing loss. They also might make this type 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 releasing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re receiving from patients. Some of these concerns are discussed below.
Don’t Neglect Getting a Hearing Exam
The idea that you can just go get a hearing aid at the store or online without going through essential steps like a hearing test is a significant worry. It will be impossible to identify what the best plan for your hearing loss is without these steps. You might also miss signs that your hearing loss is linked to other health concerns. Hearing tests also inform you of how to program the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is Equal
Most people think that hearing loss is simply 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 instantaneous: everything gets quiet.
But adjusting the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like actual hearing loss. That’s because hearing loss tends to be irregular, impacting this frequency or that wavelength before others. So you may actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not precisely calibrated.
The more sophisticated OTC hearing aids do a fairly decent job of displaying on their packaging which wavelengths they are amplifying. If you have an audiogram recently you can attempt to do it on your own. Even then, you’re probably best off asking us to help program it. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be personalized to the needs of someone that has a more complex type of hearing loss.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Choices
People have more choices when it comes to devices to help with hearing than they ever did before. But because there are so many options, it also makes deciding on the right one that much harder. This is known as analysis paralysis, you likely experience it most acutely when you’re trying to find something to watch on Netflix.
You can make some good choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Be certain you aren’t purchasing a hearing amplifier. It can often be difficult 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 can. And after a while, that can damage your hearing. After all, you probably don’t need all frequencies to be louder, only the ones that you can’t hear right now. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already able to hear.
Keep us in the loop. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly important to speak with us first. We can figure out how complex your hearing loss is with a simple hearing test. An OTC hearing aid might not be a good match. 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 best solution. But with a little professional assistance and education, most of these difficulties can be overcome. It’s beneficial to take the time to get some assistance first because hearing is an essential part of your overall health.