We all love convenience. So it’s easy to comprehend the appeal of hearing aids that you can buy at your local store or pharmacy. Instant gratification with no fitting and no waiting. But we might need to investigate this rosy vision of the future a bit further.
Store bought hearing aids might start popping up in stores near you so a little caution is necessary. And in order to know all of the facts, a lot of the responsibility falls on the consumer. If you don’t get it right your hearing could pay the price which makes the stakes for these decisions very high. But great responsibility comes with great convenience.
What Is an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
In some sense, an over-the-counter hearing aid has similarities with other hearing aids. The devices are manufactured to amplify sounds so they can correct for the effects of hearing loss. In this regard, OTC hearing aids are of a higher quality than they used to be.
But it’s a bit more complex than getting, say, a bottle of aspirin. It should work like this:
- You need an audiogram which you will get when you have a hearing screening.
- Your general hearing health, particularly what frequency you’re having a tough time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- Your distinct hearing loss parameters will identify what the appropriate solution should be. The reality is that some types of hearing loss can’t be effectively treated using over-the-counter devices. In situations where they can, you want to make certain you get as close to what you need as possible.
Theoretically, this strategy will help you choose a hearing device that’s correct for your amount of hearing loss and that will work well in all environments. The real hassles can start when you actually visit your local store to try and buy the best device for you.
The Responsibility Part
This all seems pretty great, in theory. Some people will be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs using OTC hearing aids. But we weren’t kidding when we said it places a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
When a consumer goes straight from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, here’s what they lose out on:
- Testing: Fittings also ensure that the hearing aid is working the way that it should. You can be sure that your hearing aid is functioning the way it was intended for you because we test it when you’re in the office.
- A better selection: We offer all kinds of hearing aids, at different price points, that can be programmed to your hearing loss.
- A good fit: You can get assistance with style and fit when you go through us. To ensure a custom fit and a maximum comfort a mold of your ear can occasionally be cast. Achieving a good fit will help make sure that you are comfortable enough to wear it on a daily basis. Fit also impacts your ability to hear. If the device doesn’t fit tightly in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to get feedback.
- Advice: Even though they are tiny, hearing devices can be challenging to program. How to take care of your hearing aid, how to use it effectively, and how to adjust to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be adjusted so it will function efficiently in a number of common situations. For example, we can program settings for loud places such as restaurants and settings for quiet places. In order to get the most out of your hearing aids over the long run, this fine tuning is essential.
When you come see us for some hearing guidance, these are only some of the things we will help you with.
We’re not saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are a bad thing. But when you are making your selection, you should use some caution, and in addition to getting the technology you want, keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will help you get the care you need.