Over-the-counter hearing aid options are appearing more often online and in stores. These devices are meant to make it convenient to get help for hearing loss. They also increase the affordability of hearing help. 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 they have received complaints from individuals who have used them. Here are just a few concerns.
A Hearing Test is Still Important
The concept that you can just go purchase a hearing aid online or at the store without going through important steps like a hearing exam is a significant concern. It will be difficult to know what the best solution for your hearing loss is without these steps. Also, your hearing loss may be related to other health problems which you could miss. We can also help you figure out what the best settings will be when you come in for an exam.
Not All Hearing Loss is Identical
In general, people tend to think of hearing loss as a sort of decreasing of the volume meter on your ears. The result is immediate when you do that on your stereo: the volume rapidly goes down.
But real hearing loss is more like playing around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your audio app on your computer). That’s because hearing loss is usually irregular, influencing this frequency or that wavelength before others. So you may actually be doing further damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not correctly calibrated.
The particular frequencies that are being boosted by the OTC hearing aid will usually be printed on the packaging (at least on higher quality versions). If you have an audiogram recently you can try to do it on your own. And you may still need some help with the programming. When your hearing loss is particularly complex, OTC hearing aids might not offer the kind of customization you’ll need.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Choices
At this point in history, consumers have the largest selection of hearing aid choices ever. But it’s also more challenging to make some decisions because there are so many options. This is known as analysis paralysis, you likely experience it most acutely when you’re attempting to find something to watch on Netflix.
Here are a few ways you can make some practical choices with your hearing aids:
Some amplification devices are marketed to look like hearing aids so be cautious of this. It can often be hard to tell the difference. A hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on all frequencies of sound, not just distinct frequencies like a hearing aid does. And over time, that can impair your hearing. Obviously, you only need to boost the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. If your hearing is poor in the high register, you obviously don’t require to boost the lower frequencies which could damage your hearing.
Speak with us. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s very 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 may not be a good fit. You will be in a more informed position to decide which solution meets your needs when you get an audiogram.
The best option is usually not going to be OTC hearing aids. But it’s significant to consider that most of these problems can be easily worked out with some personal education and a professional evaluation. Hearing is essential to your general health. It’s worth taking the additional step and get evaluated first.