We’re seeing more examples, 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 increase the affordability of hearing assistance. But medical professionals and even government officials have some serious worries about some of the consequences of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even issuing warnings because they have taken complaints from individuals who have used them. Here are just a few 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, such as getting a hearing evaluation and hearing test. It will be hard to identify what the right plan for your hearing loss is without these steps. You may also miss signs that your hearing loss is linked to other health concerns. Hearing tests also let you know how to program the device for best results.
There Are Different Levels And Kinds of Hearing Loss
Most people think that hearing loss is simply a reduction of the volume of sounds you hear. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the effect is instantaneous: the volume rapidly goes down.
But changing the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like real hearing loss. This develops because different wavelengths and frequencies are impacted with hearing loss. If your hearing aid, over-the-counter or otherwise, is not accurately calibrated for your specific hearing loss, you could end up damaging your entire hearing.
The most sophisticated OTC hearing aids do a pretty decent job of displaying on their packaging which wavelengths they are boosting. If you are going to try to do it by yourself, then you will want to begin with a recent audiogram. Even then, you’re likely best off asking us to help program it. When your hearing loss is particularly complex, OTC hearing aids might not offer the kind of personalization you’ll need.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Decisions
Consumers have more choices when it comes to devices to help with hearing than at any point in history. But because there are so many choices, it also makes choosing the right one that much harder. This is known as analysis paralysis, you probably experience it most acutely when you’re attempting to find something to watch on Netflix.
Here are a couple of ways you can make some smart decisions with your hearing aids:
Some amplification devices are marketed to resemble hearing aids so be careful of this. One issue that people have run into is recognizing the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. A hearing amplifier will turn the volume up on all frequencies of sound, not just distinct frequencies like a hearing aid does. And that can be bad for your ears in the long run. Obviously, you only need to boost the wavelengths you have trouble hearing. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already able to hear.
Keep us in the loop. It’s very important to have an evaluation with us either way you choose to go. We can check your hearing to see just how complex your hearing loss is. It may or may not be a smart plan to go with an OTC hearing aid. You will be in a better position to determine which option meets your needs when you have an audiogram.
The best choice is usually not going to be OTC hearing aids. But it’s important to remember that most of these issues can be simply worked out with a little personal education and a professional evaluation. Hearing is essential to your general health. It’s worth taking the additional step and get evaluated first.