We’re observing more examples, online and on TV, of over-the-counter hearing aids. These instruments are meant to make it easier to get assistance with hearing loss. They also increase the affordability of hearing assistance. But medical professionals and even government officials have some significant worries about some of the repercussions of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even issuing warnings because they have taken complaints from people who have used them. Some of these concerns are discussed below.
Don’t Skip a Hearing Test
The idea that you can just go get a hearing aid online or at the store without going through important steps like a hearing test is a significant concern. It will be difficult to know what the best plan for your hearing loss is without these steps. Additionally, your hearing loss may be linked to other health problems which you could miss. Hearing tests also inform you of how to program the device for best results.
There Are Different Degrees And Kinds of Hearing Loss
Many people think that hearing loss is just a reduction of the volume of sounds you hear. The effect is immediate when you do that on your stereo: the volume rapidly goes down.
But actual hearing loss is more like fooling around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your audio app on your computer). That’s because hearing loss tends to be irregular, affecting this frequency or that wavelength before others. If your hearing aid, over-the-counter or otherwise, is not correctly calibrated for your specific hearing loss, you could end up damaging your overall hearing.
The specific frequencies that are being boosted by the OTC hearing aid will usually be printed on the box (at least on higher quality versions). If you’ve had a recent audiogram you can attempt to do it by yourself. Even then, you’re likely best off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is particularly complex, OTC hearing aids may not provide the kind of personalization you’ll need.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Choices
At this point in history, consumers have the largest selection of hearing aid options ever. But because there are so many choices, it also makes deciding on the right one that much harder. You’ve most likely experienced this kind of “analysis paralysis” when flipping through the channels and attempting to pick something to watch.
You can make some smart choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Make sure you’re not purchasing a hearing amplifier. One problem that consumers have encountered is telling the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. Where a hearing aid will boost only certain frequencies of sound, a hearing amplifier will just turn the volume up on everything. And that can be bad for your ears in the long run. Obviously, you only need to increase the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. Making sounds universally loud will dull the sounds you’re already able to hear.
Speak with us. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly beneficial to speak with us first. We can test your hearing to see just how complex your hearing impairment is. It may or may not be a smart plan to choose an OTC hearing aid. You will be in a better position to decide which solution meets your needs when you get an audiogram.
The best solution is often not going to be OTC hearing aids. But it’s significant to keep in mind that most of these problems can be easily solved with a little personal education and a professional evaluation. Hearing is critical to your overall health. It’s worth taking the extra step and get examined first.