Convenience is something we all love. So if you’re able to go to your local store and get some hearing aids, it’s not difficult to understand how this would seem appealing. No waiting, no fitting, just instant gratification. But we might need to investigate this rosy vision of the future a bit more.
A little caution is important because over-the-counter hearing aids may start appearing in stores around you. And in order to know all of the facts, a lot of the responsibility falls on the consumer. Those decisions have relatively high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could pay the price. 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 types of hearing aids. In order to counteract the effects of hearing loss, these devices are designed to amplify sound. OTC hearing aids, in doing this, have improved somewhat.
But it’s a little more challenging than buying, say, a bottle of aspirin. Here’s how it should work:
- You should get a hearing assessment and receive an audiogram.
- Your audiogram would give you a readout of your general hearing health, including what frequencies of sound you need assistance hearing.
- Your specific hearing loss parameters will identify what the appropriate solution should be. The fact is, over the counter hearing aids can’t properly treat all kinds of hearing impairment. Even if your distinct form of hearing loss can be addressed in this way, you still need to select one that will work best for your situation.
This process should, at least theoretically, allow you to pick the best device for your hearing loss situation. The real hassles can start when you actually visit your local store to try and buy the correct device for you.
The Responsibility Part
This all sounds pretty good, in theory. For some, OTC hearing aids will decrease the costs involved and allow more people to enjoy healthier hearing. But the amount of responsibility that is placed on the consumer is no joke.
Consumers will lose out on the following things if they decide to go from their audiogram to an OTC hearing aid:
- Testing: Fittings also ensure that the hearing aid is working the way that it should. This includes testing it while you’re still in the office and making sure it works as intended for you.
- Advice: Even though they are tiny, hearing devices can be challenging to program. We can walk you through how to use your hearing aid effectively, how to care for them, and how to adjust to your new level of hearing.
- A better selection: We can fit you with one of the numerous styles of hearing aids that we offer at a variety of price points programmed to your particular hearing needs.
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be fine-tuned so it will operate efficiently in a number of common situations. For instance, we can program settings for loud locations such as restaurants and settings for quiet spaces. In order to get the most from your hearing aids over the long run, this fine tuning is essential.
- A good fit: We help you select a design and fit of hearing aid that will feel comfortable in your ears. To ensure a custom fit and a maximum comfort a mold of your ear can sometimes be made. Getting a good fit will help make sure that you are comfortable enough to wear it every day. Fit also impacts your ability to hear. You’ll be more likely to have feedback if the device is loose in your ear.
When you come in for some hearing advice, these are just some of the things we will help you with.
We’re not saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are bad. It’s just that you should use a little caution when making your selection, and including your hearing specialist will be a good way to make sure you’re getting the care you require in addition to the technology you want.