We all enjoy convenience. So it’s easy to understand the appeal of hearing aids that you can get at your local pharmacy or store. Instant gratification with no waiting and no fitting. But we may need to investigate this wonderful vision of the future a bit more.
A little care is essential because over-the-counter hearing aids may start popping up in stores near you. And in order to know what’s what, a lot of the burden falls on the consumer. Those decisions have relatively high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could suffer. So, with great ease comes great responsibility.
What Is an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
To some degree, 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. OTC hearing aids, in this way, have advanced somewhat.
But it’s a little more challenging 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 examination.
- Your general hearing health, specifically what frequency you’re having a tough time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- Your specific hearing loss parameters will identify what the appropriate solution should be. The truth is that some forms of hearing loss can’t be sufficiently managed with over-the-counter devices. Even if your particular type of hearing loss can be handled in this way, you still need to decide on one that will work best for your scenario.
In theory, this strategy will help you choose a hearing device that’s right for your amount 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 good, in theory. Some people might be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs using OTC hearing aids. But we weren’t kidding when we said it places a large amount of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
When a consumer goes right from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, here’s what they lose out on:
- 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 efficiently, and how to adjust to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
- Testing: When you get fitted for a hearing aid, we will also test it’s functionality. You can be certain 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 can fit you with one of the various styles of hearing aids that we offer at a variety of 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 sometimes be made. Achieving a good fit will help make certain that you are comfortable enough to wear it every day. Fit also impacts your ability to hear. You’ll be more likely to get feedback if the device is loose in your ear.
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be adjusted so it will operate effectively in several everyday situations. As an example, we can create settings for loud places like restaurants and settings for quiet places. In order to get the most from your hearing aids over time, this fine tuning is crucial.
When you come in for some hearing assistance, these are just some of the things we will help you with.
It’s worth mentioning that over-the-counter hearing aids aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that you should use a little bit of caution when making your selection, and keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will be a smart way to make certain you’re getting the care you require as well as the technology you want.