We all enjoy convenience. So it’s easy to comprehend the appeal of hearing aids that you can buy at your local pharmacy or store. Instant gratification with no waiting and no fitting. But we may need to investigate this rosy vision of the future a bit further.
Over the counter hearing aids might start popping up in stores around you so a little caution is required. And that puts a lot of burden on consumers like you to know all of the facts. The stakes of those decisions are relatively high; get it wrong and your hearing could suffer. But great responsibility comes with great convenience.
What Is an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
Over the counter hearing aids, in some ways, have similarities with other kinds of hearing aids. So that they can counteract the effects of hearing loss, these devices are made to amplify sound. OTC hearing aids, in doing this, have advanced somewhat.
But the process of purchasing an OTC hearing aid is a bit more complicated than buying a bottle of Tylenol. Here’s how it should work:
- You should get a hearing screening and receive an audiogram.
- Your audiogram would give you an indication of your general hearing health, such as what frequencies of sound you need assistance hearing.
- You would then adjust your choice of hearing solution to your distinct hearing loss. The reality is that some types of hearing loss can’t be sufficiently managed with over-the-counter devices. Even if your particular type of hearing loss can be handled in this way, you still need to pick one that will work best for your situation.
Theoretically, this strategy will help you choose a hearing device that’s correct for your level of hearing loss and that will work well in all environments. That doesn’t necessarily mean your local store will have that device in stock, however, and close enough isn’t good enough with regards to your hearing.
The Part About Responsibility
In theory, this most likely all sounds pretty good. For some, OTC hearing aids will reduce the costs involved and let more people enjoy healthier hearing. But we weren’t kidding when we said it places a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
When a consumer goes straight from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, this is what they lose out on:
- A better selection: We offer a wide variety of hearing aids, at different price points, that can be programmed to your hearing loss.
- Testing: When you get a fitting for a hearing aid, we will also test it’s functionality. You can be certain that your hearing aid is functioning the way it was intended for you because we test it when you’re in the office.
- Advice: Hearing aids can be complicated to program even though they are tiny. How to take care of your hearing aid, how to use it effectively, and how to adapt to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
- A good fit: You can get assistance with fit and style when you go through us. To ensure maximum comfort and a custom fit a mold of your ear can sometimes be cast. It’s important to wear your hearing aid every day so a good fit is essential. Fit also affects your ability to hear. You’ll be more likely to get feedback if the device isn’t snug in your ear.
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be fine-tuned so it will operate efficiently in a number of everyday situations. You can have presets that help you hear in quiet environments and other presets for louder scenarios like crowded restaurants. This type of fine-tuning can be essential to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
When you come see us for some hearing guidance, these are only some of the things we will help you with.
It’s worth pointing out that over-the-counter hearing aids aren’t always a bad thing. It’s just that you need to use a bit of caution when making your choices, and in addition to getting the technology you want, including your hearing specialist will help you get the care you need.