We’re observing more instances, online and on TV, of over-the-counter hearing aids. These instruments are meant to make it convenient to get help for hearing loss. They also may make this kind of device more affordable. However, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused quite a bit of worry from both medical experts and the government. Some states are even releasing warnings because they have received complaints from people who have used them. Here are just a couple of concerns.
A Hearing Test is Still Important
One main concern of over-the-counter hearing aids is that you neglect essential steps in the process, like getting a hearing evaluation and hearing test. It will be hard to recognize what the best solution for your hearing loss is without these steps. You may also fail to recognize signs that your hearing loss is connected to other health concerns. We can also help you figure out what the best settings will be when you come in for a test.
Not All Hearing Loss is The Same
Generally, 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 result is instantaneous: the volume rapidly goes down.
But actual hearing loss is more like playing around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your music app on your computer). This occurs because different wavelengths and frequencies are impacted with hearing loss. So you may actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not correctly calibrated.
The most sophisticated OTC hearing aids do a pretty good job of indicating on their packaging which wavelengths they are boosting. If you have a recent audiogram you can try to do it on your own. Even then, you’re likely better off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is especially complex, OTC hearing aids might not offer the kind of personalization you’ll need.
Making Smart Hearing Aid Decisions
At this point in history, consumers have the largest selection of hearing aid options ever. But because there are so many choices, it also makes choosing the right one that much more difficult. This is known as analysis paralysis, you probably experience it most intensely when you’re trying to find something to watch on Netflix.
Here are a few ways you can make some smart choices with your hearing aids:
Some amplification devices are advertised to look like hearing aids so be careful of this. One problem that people have run into is recognizing the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. Where a hearing aid will boost only certain wavelengths of sound, a hearing amplifier will just turn the volume up on everything. And after a while, that can damage your hearing. Obviously, you only need to increase the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. Making sounds universally loud will dull the sounds you’re already able to hear.
Talk to us. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s very important to speak with us first. We can figure out how complex your hearing loss is with a basic hearing test. It may or may not be a good strategy to go with an OTC hearing aid. We can also do an audiogram, so you’ll be capable of choosing the correct solution for your needs.
The best solution is often not going to be OTC hearing aids. But with some professional assistance and education, most of these obstacles can be overcome. It’s important to take the time to get some help first because hearing is an important part of your general health.