We’re observing more instances, online and on TV, of over-the-counter hearing aids. These devices are meant to make it convenient to get assistance with hearing loss. They also might make this type of device more affordable. But medical professionals and even government officials have some serious worries about some of the consequences of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even releasing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re receiving from patients. Here are just a few concerns.
A Hearing Test is Still Important
One main problem with over-the-counter hearing aids is that you skip over essential steps in the process, like getting a hearing consultation and hearing exam. Without these steps, you can’t really know which solution is correct for you. Also, your hearing loss might be connected to other health concerns 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
Generally, people have a tendency to think of hearing loss as a kind of decreasing 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 goes quiet.
But adjusting the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like real hearing loss. This develops because different wavelengths and frequencies are effected with hearing loss. If your hearing aid, over-the-counter or otherwise, is not accurately calibrated for your particular hearing loss, you could wind up damaging your entire hearing.
The exact frequencies that are being boosted by the OTC hearing aid will usually be printed on the packaging (at least on higher quality models). If you’ve had a recent audiogram you can attempt to do it by yourself. Even then, you’re likely better off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is particularly complex, OTC hearing aids might not provide the kind of customization you’ll need.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Choices
People have more choices when it comes to devices to help with hearing than they ever did before. But it’s also harder to make some decisions because there are so many options. This is known as analysis paralysis, you probably experience it most acutely when you’re attempting to find something to watch on Netflix.
You can make some smart choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Some amplification devices are advertised to look like hearing aids so be cautious of this. It can often be challenging to tell the difference. Where a hearing aid will boost only certain wavelengths of sound, a hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on everything. And that can be harmful for your ears over time. After all, you probably don’t need all frequencies to be boosted, just the ones that you can’t hear currently. Making sounds universally loud will dull the sounds you’re already able to hear.
Keep us in the loop. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly important to talk with us first. We can test your hearing to see exactly how complex your hearing impairment is. It may or may not be a smart strategy to go with an OTC hearing aid. You will be in a better position to determine which solution meets your needs when you have an audiogram.
The best choice is often not going to be OTC hearing aids. But with some professional assistance and education, most of these challenges can be overcome. It’s beneficial to take the time to get some help first because hearing is a significant part of your overall health.