Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are appearing more often online and in stores. Getting help for hearing loss is supposed to be easier with these instruments. They also may make this kind of device more affordable. But medical professionals and even government officials have some significant concerns about some of the repercussions of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even issuing warnings because they have received complaints from people who have used them. Here are just a couple of concerns.
A Hearing Experiment is Still Needed
The idea that you can just go get a hearing aid online or at the store without dealing with important steps like a hearing exam is a significant concern. Without these steps, it is impossible to know which plan is correct for you. You might also miss signs that your hearing loss is related to other health concerns. Hearing tests also let you know how to program the device for best results.
Not All Hearing Loss is Identical
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 effect is immediate: the volume rapidly goes down.
But changing the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like actual hearing loss. This happens because different wavelengths and frequencies are effected with hearing loss. So you may actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not precisely calibrated.
The more sophisticated OTC hearing aids do a pretty good job of indicating on their packaging which frequencies they are amplifying. If you are going to try to do it by yourself, then you will want to begin with a recent audiogram. And you may still require some help with the programming. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be personalized to the requirements of someone that has a more complex type of hearing loss.
How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Choices
People have more options in terms of devices to help with hearing than they ever did before. But it’s also harder to make some decisions because there are so many choices. This is called analysis paralysis, you likely experience it most intensely when you’re attempting to find something to watch on Netflix.
You can make some good choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:
Make sure you’re not purchasing a hearing amplifier. It can often be challenging to tell the difference. A hearing amplifier will turn the volume up on all wavelengths of sound, not just distinct frequencies like a hearing aid can. And over time, that can impair your hearing. After all, you likely don’t need all frequencies to be boosted, only the ones that you can’t hear currently. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already able to hear.
Talk to us. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s very beneficial to talk with us first. We can test your hearing to see just how complex your hearing impairment is. An OTC hearing aid might not be a good match. You will be in a better position to decide which solution fits your needs when you have an audiogram.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are frequently not the ideal solution. But with a little professional help and knowledge, most of these challenges can be conquered. It’s important to take the time to get some assistance first because hearing is an important part of your overall health.