Do you remember those gallon buckets of ice cream you used to find at grocery stores? As a kid, they were awesome because they promised a whole gallon of ice cream, that’s a lot of frozen custard and high-fructose corn syrup!
But you start to become more particular in your taste as you mature. You start opting for the more specialized ice cream: the Turkey Hill, the Tillamook, the Ben & Jerry’s. Suddenly, those littler containers are the ones that are enticing.
Nevertheless, if you’re hosting a large dinner party, you’re likely to spring for those generic buckets of Kemp’s ice cream. There are pros and cons to each choice. Generic is good in certain situations, but you may want more specialized ice cream in other situations.
This same mentality also applies to hearing aids. Are new over-the-counter hearing aids worthwhile? Well, it’s a lot like that ice cream: it depends on what your plans are.
Hearing loss can have significant impacts
Hearing loss can have a significant impact on your day-to-day activities. When you have neglected hearing loss, you can experience social solitude, it’s harder to carry on even basic conversations, so you steer clear of situations where you encounter other individuals who might want to talk to you.
This can make you feel removed from your family and friends. You even steer clear of the cashier at the grocery store. It’s not a happy way to live. And it can bring about a faster mental decline as you age.
So it isn’t just that you’re unable to hear what your family and friends are saying, but you could also be increasing your chances of other potentially severe health problems.
Over-the-counter hearing aids – how they work
It’s not hard to recognize why individuals would want to move towards hearing aids that can be purchased easily, given the health repercussions of hearing loss.
Convenience is the very nature of the appeal of over-the-counter hearing aids. You just walk into your local pharmacy and you never have to make an appointment with a hearing specialist. You’re on your way home as soon as you pick up and pay for these devices. Once you put them in, they function to boost the sound around you.
This can have a profoundly positive impact on your life.
Over-the-counter hearing aids can do the trick in some scenarios
Over-the-counter hearing aids started to appear on store shelves in late 2022 after the Food and Drug Administration made rule changes that allowed for their wider distribution. The rule change focused on getting hearing aids to more individuals who really need them for their untreated hearing loss.
You’ve always had to go through somewhat of a process to get prescription hearing aids. And sometimes, that process can keep people away. For people who aren’t quite ready to take the step, over-the-counter hearing aids may be a good substitute. But over-the-counter hearing aids were not manufactured to take the place of their prescription counterparts.
Regrettably, this means that consumers now bear some of the burden of determining when OTC hearing aids are a good fit (and when they aren’t).
How are OTC hearing aids different from prescription hearing aids?
In general, OTC hearing aids aren’t quite as powerful, capable, or customizable as prescription hearing aids. They won’t be personalized to your particular requirements and they won’t fit as well.
So, are over-the-counter hearing aids worthwhile at all? There actually can be some advantages to an OTC in specific circumstances. An OTC hearing aid may work best for you if:
- You want a spare set to use for emergencies.
- Your hearing specialist is recommending an OTC. (For best results, ask your hearing specialist to go over settings and style types that may work best for you.)
- You have no intention of getting your hearing checked. (You definitely should. But we also acknowledge that some people simply never will.) An OTC hearing aid is typically better than no hearing aid at all.
- Your hearing loss is in the early phases and is really simple. These devices are great for really mild or moderate hearing loss.
Typically, OTC hearing aids are sold with certain presets already programmed in. Some types are more effective for low-frequency hearing loss, others might be good for high-frequency hearing loss. (So before you buy a hearing aid, you should definitely get a better idea of your level and type of hearing loss.).
When OTC hearing aids are not a good solution
So are there negative aspects to OTC hearing aids? Are there side effects of over-the-counter hearing aids?
Well, let’s just say that OTC hearing aids aren’t a good fit for everybody in every situation. OTC hearing won’t be the best choice for you if:
- OTC hearing aids are not custom fit the way you might need them to be. A custom fit is frequently necessary for some people and OTC hearing aids don’t allow this.
- Is the money you paid really worth it if that OTC hearing aid is that much lower in power?
- Exactly which hearing aid to get is still unknown to you: For some people with hearing loss, the wrong hearing aids can actually harm their ears. (It’s comparable to wearing really loud earbuds.)
- When you’re in complex and noisy spaces, you need to be able to hear. Depending on what surroundings you need to hear in and exactly what you’re listening to, prescription hearing aids can be customized for those situations.
- You believe OTC hearing aids will save you a ton of money. OTC hearing aids are usually nearly as expensive as their prescription-only counterparts.
- Your hearing loss has advanced to a fairly profound stage. While OTC hearing aids can be helpful for mild and moderate hearing loss, severe hearing loss will need something more powerful and more refined.
Are there any risks that come with OTC hearing aids? You could be wasting good money and further damaging your ears by using OTC hearing aids if they’re not the best solution for your distinct hearing loss.
Consult a hearing specialist either way
For some individuals, OTC hearing aids will be fine, but for others, prescription hearing aids will be appropriate. Whichever option is best for your circumstance, your hearing aids will work better after you have an appointment with us.
That’s because knowing more about your hearing loss will help you get better treatment. Whether your hearing loss calls for prescription hearing aids or OTC hearing aids, we can help you get the best treatment for your circumstance.
We can also help you get the most out of your new technology.
Schedule an appointment with us so we can help you determine what hearing aid type is best for you.