Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are showing up more often online and in stores. Getting help for hearing loss is supposed to be easier with these instruments. They also may make this kind of device more affordable. Unfortunately, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused a lot of concern from both medical professionals and the government. Some states are even releasing warnings because they have taken complaints from people who have used them. Some of these concerns are discussed below.
Don’t Miss a Hearing Exam
The concept that you can just go purchase a hearing aid at the store or online without dealing with essential steps like a hearing test is a serious concern. It will be impossible to recognize what the right solution for your hearing loss is without these steps. You may also miss signs that your hearing loss is related to other health concerns. Hearing tests also inform you of how to program the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is Identical
Many people think that hearing loss is just 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 quickly decreases.
But adjusting the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like real hearing loss. This develops because different wavelengths and frequencies are effected with hearing loss. If your hearing aid, over-the-counter or otherwise, is not accurately calibrated for your specific hearing loss, you could wind up damaging your overall hearing.
The specific frequencies that are being amplified 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 attempt to do it on your own. 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 needs of someone that has a more complex kind of hearing loss.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Decisions
Consumers have more choices in terms of devices to help with hearing than they ever did before. But it’s also more challenging to make some decisions because there are so many choices. This is called analysis paralysis, you probably experience it most acutely when you’re attempting to find something to watch on Netflix.
You can make some smart choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Make sure you aren’t getting a hearing amplifier. It can often be difficult to tell the difference. Where a hearing aid will increase only certain frequencies of sound, a hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on everything. And that can be bad for your ears over time. Obviously, you only need to increase the frequencies you have trouble hearing. If your hearing is poor in the high register, you obviously don’t need to boost the lower end which could harm your hearing.
Keep us involved. It’s really important to have an assessment with us whichever way you decide to go. We can find out how complex your hearing impairment is with a simple hearing test. It may or may not be a good plan to go with an OTC hearing aid. We can also provide you with an audiogram, so you’ll be capable of choosing the best solution for your needs.
The best choice is usually not going to be OTC hearing aids. But with some professional assistance and education, most of these challenges can be overcome. It’s important to take the time to get some assistance first because hearing is an essential part of your overall health.