We all enjoy convenience. So if you can go to your local store and buy some hearing aids, it’s not difficult to understand how this would seem appealing. Instant gratification with no fitting and no waiting. But this positive vision of the future may require deeper investigation.
Over the counter hearing aids might start popping up in stores near you so a bit of caution is required. And that puts lots of responsibility 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. So, with great convenience comes great responsibility.
What Is an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
Over the counter hearing aids, to a certain extent, are similar to other types of hearing aids. The devices are manufactured to amplify sounds in order to compensate for the effects of hearing loss. OTC hearing aids, in doing this, have advanced to some extent.
But it’s a bit more challenging than buying, say, a bottle of aspirin. It should work like this:
- You should have a hearing assessment and receive an audiogram.
- Your audiogram would give you an indication of your overall hearing health, including what frequencies of sound you need assistance hearing.
- You would then match your choice of hearing solution to your specific hearing loss. The fact is, over the counter hearing aids can’t effectively treat all forms of hearing impairment. In situations where they can, you want to make sure you get as close to what you need as possible.
In theory, this process will help you select a hearing device that’s correct for your level of hearing loss and that will work well in all conditions. The real hassles can start when you actually go to your local store to try and find the best device for you.
The Responsibility Part
This all sounds pretty great, in theory. For some, OTC hearing aids will cut down on the costs involved and allow more people to enjoy healthier hearing. But we weren’t kidding when we said it puts a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
When a consumer goes right from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, this is what they miss out on:
- Testing: When you get fitted for a hearing aid, we will also test it’s functionality. You can be sure that your hearing aid is functioning the way it was meant for you because it’s tested when you’re in the office.
- A good fit: You can get guidance with fit and style when you go through us. Occasionally, a mold of your ear will be taken to ensure a custom fit and maximum comfort. It’s important to wear your hearing aid on a daily basis so a good fit is essential. Your ability to hear is also affected by fit. If the device is too loose in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to have feedback.
- Adjustments: We can make a few kinds of adjustments that can help your hearing aid function better in a variety of common situations. For example, we can create settings for loud places like restaurants and settings for quiet spaces. This type of fine-tuning can be crucial to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- Advice: Even though they are tiny, hearing devices can be challenging to program. We can take you step-by-step through how to use your hearing aid effectively, how to care for them, and how to adapt 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 various price points programmed to your specific hearing needs.
These are just a few of the benefits you get when you come in for advice.
It’s worth pointing out that over-the-counter hearing aids aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that you need to use a little bit of caution when making your selection, and keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will be a good way to make certain you’re getting the care you need as well as the technology you want.