Convenience is something we all enjoy. So if you can go to your local store and buy some hearing aids, it’s not hard to comprehend how this would seem attractive. No fitting, no waiting, just instant gratification. But we might need to investigate this positive vision of the future a bit more.
Over the counter hearing aids may start popping up in stores around you so a little caution is needed. And in order to know all of the facts, a lot of the burden falls on the consumer. Those decisions have fairly high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could suffer. 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. In order to counteract the effects of hearing loss, these devices are designed to amplify sound. In this way, OTC hearing aids are of a higher quality than they once were.
But the process of purchasing an OTC hearing aid is a little more involved than buying a bottle of Tylenol. Here’s how it should work:
- You should have a hearing screening and get an audiogram.
- Your overall hearing health, specifically what frequency you’re having a hard time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- You would then match your choice of hearing solution to your specific hearing loss. The truth is that some kinds of hearing loss can’t be adequately treated using over-the-counter devices. Even if your distinct form of hearing loss can be treated in this way, you still need to choose one that will work best for your situation.
Theoretically, this process will help you choose a hearing device that’s right for your level of hearing loss and that will work well in all situations. The real hassles can begin when you actually visit your local store to try and find the correct device for you.
The Responsibility Part
In theory, this most likely all sounds pretty great. Some people might be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs using OTC hearing aids. But the amount of responsibility that is put 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:
- A good fit: We help you pick a model and fit of hearing aid that will feel comfortable in your ears. Sometimes, a mold of your ear will be taken to ensure a custom fit and maximum comfort. Achieving a good fit will help make certain that you are comfortable enough to wear it every day. 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.
- Testing: Fittings also guarantee that the hearing aid is functioning 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: Hearing aids can be difficult to program even though they’re tiny. 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.
- A better selection: We can fit you with one of the many types of hearing aids that we offer at various price points programmed to your specific hearing needs.
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be adjusted so it will operate efficiently in a number of everyday situations. You can have presets that help you hear in quiet environments and other presets for noisier situations like crowded restaurants. If you want to get the most out of your hearing aids over the long run, this fine tuning is essential.
These are just a couple of the benefits you get when you come see us for advice.
We’re not saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are bad. It’s just that you should use a bit of caution when making your choices, and in addition to getting the technology you want, keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will help you get the care you need.