Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are appearing more frequently online and in stores. These instruments are meant to make it easier to get assistance with hearing loss. They also might make this type of device more affordable. However, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused quite a bit of worry among both medical professionals and the government. Some states are even issuing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re receiving from patients. Here are just a few concerns.
A Hearing Experiment is Still Necessary
The idea that you can just go buy a hearing aid online or at the store without going through essential steps like a hearing exam is a significant concern. Without these steps, it is impossible to know which plan is right for you. You might also fail to recognize signs that your hearing loss is linked to other health concerns. Hearing tests also let you know how to program the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is Identical
In general, people tend to think of hearing loss as a kind of lowering of the volume meter on your ears. The effect is immediate when you do that on your stereo: everything gets quiet.
But real hearing loss is more like fooling around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your music app on your computer). This happens because different wavelengths and frequencies are impacted with hearing loss. If your hearing aid, OTC or otherwise, is not precisely calibrated for your specific hearing loss, you could end up damaging your entire hearing.
The most sophisticated OTC hearing aids do a pretty decent job of displaying on their packaging which frequencies they are boosting. If you’ve had an audiogram recently you can attempt to do it on your own. Even then, you’re probably best off asking us to help program it. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be customized to the needs of somebody that has a more complex form of hearing loss.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Choices
People have more choices when it comes to devices to help with hearing than at any point in history. But it’s also more challenging to make some decisions because there are so many choices. This is known as analysis paralysis, you likely experience it most acutely when you’re trying to find something to watch on Netflix.
Here are a few ways you can make some smart decisions with your hearing aids:
Make sure you aren’t buying a hearing amplifier. It can often be difficult to tell the difference. Where a hearing aid will raise only certain frequencies of sound, a hearing amplifier will just turn the volume up on everything. And over time, that can damage your hearing. After all, you probably don’t need all frequencies to be boosted, just the ones that you can’t hear currently. If your hearing is poor in the high register, you obviously don’t need to boost the lower frequencies which could harm your hearing.
Keep us in the loop. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s very beneficial to talk with us first. We can test your hearing to see just how complex your hearing loss is. It may or may not be a good strategy to go with an OTC hearing aid. You will be in a more informed position to decide which option fits your needs when you get an audiogram.
The best choice is often not going to be OTC hearing aids. But with a little professional help and education, most of these challenges can be conquered. It’s important to take the time to get some assistance first because hearing is a significant part of your overall health.