We’re observing more examples, online and on TV, of over-the-counter hearing aids. Getting help for hearing loss is supposed to be easier with these devices. They also might make this kind of device more affordable. But medical professionals and even government officials have some significant concerns about some of the consequences of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even issuing warnings because they have taken complaints from people who have used them. Some of these concerns are outlined below.
A Hearing Test is Still Important
The concept 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 serious worry. Without these steps, it’s impossible to know which plan is correct for you. You may also miss signs that your hearing loss is linked to other health concerns. We can also help you determine what the best settings will be when you come in for a test.
Not All Hearing Loss is The Same
Most 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 effect is instantaneous: the volume quickly goes down.
But real hearing loss is more like fooling around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your audio app on your computer). That’s because hearing loss is usually asymmetrical, influencing this frequency or that wavelength before others. So you could actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not properly calibrated.
The particular frequencies that are being amplified by the OTC hearing aid will typically be printed on the box (at least on higher quality models). If you have a recent audiogram you can attempt to do it by yourself. Even then, you’re probably better off asking us to help program it. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be personalized to the requirements of someone that has a more complex form of hearing loss.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Choices
Consumers 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 more difficult. You’ve probably experienced this type 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 choices with your hearing aids:
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 wavelengths of sound, not just specific frequencies like a hearing aid does. And that can be bad for your ears in the long run. After all, you probably don’t need all frequencies to be boosted, just the ones that you can’t hear currently. If your hearing is poor in the high register, you obviously don’t need to boost the lower frequencies which could harm your hearing.
Talk to us. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly beneficial to speak with us first. We can find out how complex your hearing loss is with a simple hearing test. It may or may not be a smart strategy to go with an OTC hearing aid. We can also provide you with an audiogram, so you’ll be able to choose the best strategy for your needs.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are frequently not the best solution. But with a little professional help and knowledge, most of these challenges can be conquered. Hearing is essential to your over-all health. It’s worth taking the extra step and get evaluated first.