We all enjoy convenience. So it’s easy to understand the attraction of hearing aids that you can get at your local store or pharmacy. No waiting, no fitting, just instant gratification. But we might need to investigate this positive vision of the future a bit more.
Over the counter hearing aids might start appearing in stores near you so a bit of caution is necessary. And that puts a lot of responsibility on consumers like you to understand what’s what. The stakes of those decisions are relatively high; get it wrong and your hearing could pay the price. But great responsibility comes with great convenience.
What’s 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 manufactured to amplify sounds in order to correct for the effects of hearing loss. In this way, OTC hearing aids are better than they once were.
But the process of choosing an OTC hearing aid is a bit more complicated than buying a bottle of Tylenol. It should work like this:
- You should get a hearing screening and get an audiogram.
- Your audiogram would give you an indication of your overall hearing health, including what frequencies of sound you need assistance hearing.
- Your specific hearing loss criteria will determine what the appropriate solution should be. The reality is that some forms of hearing loss can’t be adequately treated with over-the-counter devices. In situations where they can, you’ll need to make sure you get as close to what you need as possible.
This process should, at least theoretically, enable you to pick 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 enough when it comes to your hearing.
The Part About Responsibility
In theory, this most likely all sounds pretty good. For some, OTC hearing aids will cut down on the costs involved and allow more people to enjoy healthier hearing. But we weren’t joking when we said it places a large amount of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
Consumers will lose out on the following things if they choose to go from their audiogram to an OTC hearing aid:
- A good fit: We help you select a model 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 sometimes be made. It’s important to wear your hearing aid daily so a good fit is essential. Fit also impacts your ability to hear. If the device is too loose in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to get feedback.
- Advice: Hearing aids can be difficult to program even though they’re tiny. How to care for your hearing aid, how to use it effectively, and how to adapt to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be adjusted so it will function efficiently in a number of common situations. You can have presets that help you hear in quiet environments and other presets for noisier scenarios like crowded restaurants. If you want to get the most out of your hearing aids over time, this fine tuning is crucial.
- A better selection: We can fit you with one of the numerous styles of hearing aids that we offer at various price points programmed to your particular hearing needs.
- Testing: Fittings also guarantee that the hearing aid is working the way that it should. You can be certain that your hearing aid is working the way it was intended for you because we test it when you’re in the office.
When you come see us for some hearing assistance, these are only some of the things we will help you with.
We aren’t saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are bad. But when you are selecting your device, you should use some care, and including your hearing specialist will be a good way to make certain you’re getting the care you require in addition to the technology you want.