Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are appearing more often online and in stores. These instruments are meant to make it convenient to get assistance with hearing loss. They also maximize the affordability of hearing help. But medical experts and even government officials have some serious concerns about some of the repercussions of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even releasing warnings because they have taken complaints from people who have used them. Some of these concerns are outlined below.
A Hearing Exam is Still Important
The concept that you can just go purchase a hearing aid online or at the store without going through important steps like a hearing test is a serious worry. It will be hard to identify what the right solution for your hearing loss is without these steps. Additionally, your hearing loss might be related to other health concerns which you could miss. Hearing tests also inform you of how to set up the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is Identical
In general, people tend to think of hearing loss as a sort of lowering of the volume meter on your ears. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the effect is immediate: everything gets quiet.
But actual hearing loss is more like fooling around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your music app on your computer). That’s because hearing loss is generally irregular, influencing this frequency or that wavelength before others. If your hearing aid, OTC or otherwise, is not correctly calibrated for your particular hearing loss, you could wind up damaging your entire hearing.
The most sophisticated OTC hearing aids do a pretty good job of displaying on their packaging which frequencies they are boosting. If you are going to attempt to do it on your own, then you will want to start with a recent audiogram. Even then, you’re likely better off asking us to help program it. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be personalized to the needs of somebody that has a more complex form of hearing loss.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Choices
At this point in history, consumers have the widest array of hearing aid choices ever. But because there are so many choices, it also makes choosing the right one that much more difficult. You’ve most likely experienced this kind of “analysis paralysis” when flipping through the channels and trying to choose something to watch.
You can make some smart choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Be certain you’re not buying a hearing amplifier. One problem that consumers have run into is recognizing the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. Where a hearing aid will raise only certain wavelengths of sound, a hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on everything. And over time, that can impair your hearing. Obviously, you only need to increase the wavelengths you have difficulty hearing. Making sounds universally loud will dull the sounds you’re already able to hear.
Speak with us. It’s really important to have an evaluation with us whichever way you choose 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 strategy to choose an OTC hearing aid. We can also do an audiogram, so you’ll be able to choose the best solution for your needs.
The best solution is usually not going to be OTC hearing aids. But with a little professional help and education, most of these challenges can be conquered. It’s worthwhile to take the time to get some help first because hearing is an essential part of your general health.