We all enjoy convenience. So it’s easy to grasp the attraction of hearing aids that you can buy at your local store or pharmacy. No fitting, no waiting, just instant gratification. But this rosy vision of the future might call for further investigation.
A little caution is important because over-the-counter hearing aids may start popping up in stores near you. And in order to know what’s what, a lot of the burden falls on the buyer. Those decisions have relatively high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could pay the price. So, with great ease comes great responsibility.
Over The Counter Hearing Aids – What Are They?
Over the counter hearing aids, to a certain extent, have similarities with other kinds of hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds so they can compensate for the effects of hearing loss. OTC hearing aids, in this way, have advanced to some extent.
But it’s a little more involved than buying, say, a bottle of aspirin. Here’s how it should work:
- You should get a hearing screening and receive an audiogram.
- Your general hearing health, specifically what frequency you’re having a hard time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- Your distinct hearing loss criteria will determine what the appropriate solution should be. The fact is that some forms of hearing loss can’t be effectively treated using over-the-counter devices. Even if your specific type of hearing loss can be treated in this way, you still need to pick one that will work best for your situation.
This process should, at least in theory, allow you to select the correct device for your hearing loss situation. That doesn’t necessarily mean your local store will have that device available, however, and close enough isn’t sufficient with regards to your hearing.
The Responsibility Part
This all sounds pretty good, in theory. Some people will be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs using OTC hearing aids. But we weren’t kidding around when we said it places a great deal 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:
- Testing: When you get a fitting for a hearing aid, we will also verify it’s functionality. You can be sure that your hearing aid is working the way it was intended for you because it’s tested when you’re in the office.
- Advice: Hearing aids can be difficult to program even though they are tiny. We can take you step-by-step through how to use your hearing aid effectively, how to care for them, and how to adjust to your new level of hearing.
- 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 specific hearing needs.
- A good fit: You can get assistance with style and fit when you go through us. To ensure a custom fit and a maximum comfort a mold of your ear can sometimes be made. Achieving a good fit will help make certain that you are comfortable enough to wear it on a daily basis. Fit also affects your ability to hear. If the device doesn’t fit tightly in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to get feedback.
- Adjustments: We can make a few kinds of adjustments that can help your hearing aid function better in a number of common environments. For example, we can program settings for loud places like restaurants and settings for quiet places. If you want to get the most out of your hearing aids over the long run, this fine tuning is crucial.
When you come see us for some hearing assistance, these are just some of the things we will help you with.
We aren’t saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are a bad thing. But when you are selecting your device, you should use some caution, and keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will be a smart way to make certain you’re getting the care you require in addition to the technology you want.