Over-the-counter hearing aid options 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 help. However, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused a lot of concern from both medical professionals and the government. Some states are even issuing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re receiving from patients. Some of these concerns are discussed below.
Don’t Skip a Hearing Exam
One main problem with over-the-counter hearing aids is that you neglect essential steps in the process, like having a hearing consultation and hearing exam. It will be difficult to know what the correct plan for your hearing loss is without these steps. Also, your hearing loss might be linked to other health problems which you could miss. Hearing tests also let you know how to set up the device for best results.
There Are Different Levels And Types of Hearing Loss
Many people think that hearing loss is simply a lowering of the volume of sounds you hear. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the effect is immediate: the volume rapidly decreases.
But adjusting the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like actual hearing loss. This occurs because different wavelengths and frequencies are impacted with hearing loss. So you may actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not correctly calibrated.
The most advanced OTC hearing aids do a pretty good job of displaying on their packaging which wavelengths they are boosting. If you are going to try to do it on your own, then you will want to start with a recent audiogram. And you may still want some help with the programming. When your hearing loss is especially complex, OTC hearing aids might not provide the kind of personalization you’ll need.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Choices
People have more choices in terms of devices to help with hearing than they ever did before. But it’s also harder to make some decisions because there are so many options. This is called analysis paralysis, you probably experience it most acutely when you’re trying to find something to watch on Netflix.
Here are a few ways you can make some wise decisions with your hearing aids:
Some amplification devices are marketed to look like hearing aids so be cautious of this. It can often be difficult 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 can. And that can be harmful for your ears in the long run. Obviously, you only need to increase the frequencies you have trouble hearing. Making sounds universally loud will dull the sounds you’re already capable of hearing.
Keep us in the loop. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s very beneficial 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. You will be in a more informed position to choose which option fits your needs when you get an audiogram.
The best option is usually not going to be OTC hearing aids. But it’s important to remember that most of these issues can be easily worked out with a little personal education and a professional evaluation. Hearing is essential to your over-all health. It’s worth taking the extra step and get evaluated first.