We all enjoy convenience. So it’s easy to understand the appeal of hearing aids that you can buy at your local pharmacy or store. Instant gratification with no fitting and no waiting. But we may need to investigate this rosy vision of the future a little more.
Store bought hearing aids may start popping up in stores around you so a bit of caution is needed. And in order to know what’s what, a lot of the burden falls on the buyer. If you don’t get it right your hearing could suffer which makes the stakes for these decisions very high. But great responsibility comes with great convenience.
What Is an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
Over the counter hearing aids, in some ways, are similar to other types of hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds so they can correct for the effects of hearing loss. In this regard, OTC hearing aids are better than they once were.
But the process of purchasing an OTC hearing aid is a little more complex than buying a bottle of ibuprofen. Here’s how it should work:
- You need an audiogram which you will get when you have a hearing examination.
- Your general hearing health, particularly what frequency you’re having a hard time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- Your specific hearing loss parameters will identify what the appropriate solution should be. In truth, over the counter hearing aids can’t effectively treat all forms of hearing impairment. In situations where they can, you want to make sure you get as close to what you need as you can.
This strategy should, at least theoretically, permit you to select the proper device for your hearing loss situation. That doesn’t automatically mean your local pharmacy will have that device in stock, however, and close enough isn’t sufficient with regards to your hearing.
The Responsibility Part
This all seems pretty great, in theory. Some people might be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs using OTC hearing aids. But we weren’t kidding when we said it places a large amount of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
Consumers will miss out on the following things if they choose to go from their audiogram to an OTC hearing aid:
- A better selection: We offer all kinds of hearing aids, at different price points, that can be programmed to your hearing loss.
- Testing: When you get a fitting for a hearing aid, we will also verify it’s functionality. This includes testing it while you’re still in the office and making sure it works as intended for you.
- Advice: Even though they are tiny, hearing devices can be challenging to program. 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.
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be adjusted so it will function effectively in several everyday situations. As an example, we can create settings for loud locations such as restaurants and settings for quiet places. This sort of fine-tuning can be crucial to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- A good fit: We help you select a design and fit of hearing aid that will feel comfortable in your ears. To ensure maximum comfort and a custom fit a mold of your ear can occasionally be cast. It’s important to wear your hearing aid every day so a good fit is essential. Your ability to hear is also effected by fit. If the device doesn’t fit tightly in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to have feedback.
When you come in 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 bad. It’s just that you should use a bit of caution when making your choices, and in conjunction with getting the technology you want, including your hearing specialist will help you receive the care you need.