Convenience is something we all love. So it’s easy to realize the attraction of hearing aids that you can get at your local store or pharmacy. No waiting, no fitting, just instant gratification. But this positive vision of the future might require deeper investigation.
A little caution is required because over-the-counter hearing aids may start popping up in stores around you. 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 pay the price. So, with great ease comes great responsibility.
What’s an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
Over the counter hearing aids, to a certain extent, have similarities with other types of hearing aids. In order to counteract the effects of hearing loss, these devices are designed to amplify sound. OTC hearing aids, in this way, have advanced to some extent.
But it’s a bit more challenging than getting, say, a bottle of aspirin. Here’s how it should work:
- You should get a hearing assessment and receive an audiogram.
- Your overall hearing health, specifically what frequency you’re having a tough time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- You would then match your choice of hearing solution to your particular hearing loss. The reality is that some kinds of hearing loss can’t be adequately managed with over-the-counter devices. In situations where they can, you’ll need to make certain you get as close to what you need as you can.
Theoretically, this strategy will help you pick a hearing device that’s correct for your level of hearing loss and that will perform well in all environments. That doesn’t necessarily mean your local pharmacy will have that device in stock, however, and close enough isn’t enough when it comes to your hearing.
The Part About Responsibility
This all sounds pretty great, in theory. Some people might be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs with OTC hearing aids. But we weren’t kidding when we said it places a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
When a consumer goes right from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, here’s what they miss out on:
- A better selection: We can fit you with one of the many kinds of hearing aids that we offer at a variety of price points programmed to your distinct hearing needs.
- 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 working the way it was meant for you because we test it when you’re in the office.
- A good fit: We help you pick out a design and fit of hearing aid that will feel comfortable in your ears. In some cases, 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. Fit also affects your ability to hear. You’ll be more likely to get feedback if the device isn’t snug in your ear.
- Advice: Hearing aids can be difficult to program even though they are tiny. We can take you step-by-step through how to use your hearing aid effectively, how to take care of them, and how to adapt to your new level of hearing.
- Adjustments: We can make a few kinds of adjustments that can help your hearing aid function better in a variety of common situations. For instance, we can create settings for loud places such as restaurants and settings for quiet spaces. If you want to get the most out of your hearing aids over the long run, this fine tuning is essential.
When you come in for some hearing assistance, these are only some of the things we will help you with.
We aren’t saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are a bad thing. It’s just that you should use a little caution when making your choices, and in conjunction with getting the technology you want, keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will help you get the care you need.