Convenience is something we all love. So it’s easy to comprehend the appeal of hearing aids that you can get at your local pharmacy or store. No fitting, no waiting, just instant gratification. But we might need to investigate this positive vision of the future a little further.
A little care is important because over-the-counter hearing aids might start appearing in stores around you. And in order to know what’s what, a lot of the burden falls on the buyer. Those decisions have relatively high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could pay the price. But great responsibility comes with great convenience.
Over The Counter Hearing Aids – What Are They?
In some sense, an over-the-counter hearing aid has similarities with other hearing aids. So that they can counter the effects of hearing loss, these devices are designed to amplify sound. In this way, OTC hearing aids are better than they once were.
But it’s a little more involved than buying, say, a bottle of aspirin. Here’s how it should work:
- You should have an audiogram which you will get when you have a hearing screening.
- Your overall hearing health, specifically what frequency you’re having a hard time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- Your distinct hearing loss parameters will determine what the correct solution should be. The reality is that some kinds of hearing loss can’t be adequately addressed using over-the-counter devices. Even if your specific form of hearing loss can be treated in this way, you still need to select one that will work best for your situation.
This process should, at least in theory, enable you to select the best device for your hearing loss situation. That doesn’t automatically mean your local store will have that device available, however, and close enough isn’t sufficient with regards to your hearing.
The Responsibility Part
Theoretically, this most likely all sounds pretty great. Some people will be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs using OTC hearing aids. But we weren’t joking when we said it puts a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
Consumers will lose out on the following things if they choose to go from their audiogram to an OTC hearing aid:
- A better selection: We can fit you with one of the various styles of hearing aids that we offer at various price points programmed to your specific hearing needs.
- A good fit: You can get help with fit and style when you go through us. To ensure maximum comfort and a custom fit a mold of your ear can occasionally be cast. Getting a good fit will help make sure that you are comfortable enough to wear it on a daily basis. Fit also affects your ability to hear. You’ll be more likely to have feedback if the device isn’t snug in your ear.
- Testing: When you get a fitting for a hearing aid, we will also test it’s functionality. This includes testing it while you’re still in the office and making sure it works as intended for you.
- Adjustments: We can make several kinds of adjustments that can help your hearing aid function better in a number of common environments. As an example, we can create settings for loud places such as restaurants and settings for quiet spaces. This type of fine-tuning can be essential to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- Advice: Even though they are tiny, hearing devices can be complicated to program. How to care for your hearing aid, how to use it efficiently, and how to adapt to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
When you come in for some hearing advice, 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. It’s just that you should use a little bit of caution when making your selection, and including your hearing specialist will be a good way to make sure you’re getting the care you need in conjunction with the technology you want.