Convenience is something we all love. So it’s easy to realize the appeal of hearing aids that you can buy at your local pharmacy or store. Instant gratification with no fitting and no waiting. But this rosy vision of the future might call for further investigation.
A little care is essential because over-the-counter hearing aids may start appearing in stores around you. And that puts lots of responsibility on consumers like you to know what’s what. Those decisions have relatively high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could suffer. So, with great ease comes great responsibility.
Over The Counter Hearing Aids – What Are They?
To some degree, an over-the-counter hearing aid has similarities with other hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds so they can correct for the effects of hearing loss. In this regard, OTC hearing aids are better than they used to be.
But it’s a little more involved than getting, say, a bottle of aspirin. Here’s how it should work:
- You should have an audiogram which you will get when you have a hearing screening.
- Your overall hearing health, particularly what frequency you’re having a hard time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- Your specific hearing loss parameters will determine what the correct solution should be. The reality is that some kinds of hearing loss can’t be sufficiently addressed with over-the-counter devices. In situations where they can, you want to make sure you get as close to what you need as possible.
This strategy should, at least theoretically, permit you to select the proper device for your hearing loss situation. The real issues can begin when you actually visit your local store to try and find the correct device for you.
The Part About Responsibility
In theory, this most likely all sounds pretty good. For some, OTC hearing aids will decrease the costs involved and let more people enjoy healthier hearing. But the amount of responsibility that is placed on the consumer is no joke.
When a consumer goes straight from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, this is what they miss out on:
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be adjusted so it will function effectively in a number of common situations. For example, we can program settings for loud places like restaurants and settings for quiet places. If you want to get the most out of your hearing aids over the long run, this fine tuning is essential.
- Advice: Tiny though they are, hearing devices can be complicated to program. How to care for your hearing aid, how to use it efficiently, and how to adapt to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
- Testing: Fittings also ensure that the hearing aid is working the way that it should. You can be certain that your hearing aid is functioning the way it was intended for you because it’s tested when you’re in the office.
- A better selection: We offer a wide variety of hearing aids, at various price points, that can be programmed to your hearing loss.
- A good fit: We help you pick out 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 occasionally be cast. It’s important to wear your hearing aid daily so a good fit is essential. Your ability to hear is also effected by fit. If the device is too loose in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to get feedback.
When you come see us for some hearing advice, these are only some of the things we will help you with.
We’re not saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are a bad thing. It’s just that you should use a little bit of caution when making your choices, and in addition to getting the technology you want, including your hearing specialist will help you receive the care you need.