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 understand how this would seem appealing. No waiting, no fitting, just instant gratification. But this positive vision of the future may require deeper investigation.
A little care is required because over-the-counter hearing aids may start appearing in stores around you. And that puts a lot of responsibility on consumers like you to understand all of the facts. The stakes of those decisions are relatively high; get it wrong and your hearing could pay the price. But great responsibility comes with great convenience.
What’s an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
Over the counter hearing aids, in some ways, are similar to other types of hearing aids. The devices are manufactured to amplify sounds in order to correct for the effects of hearing loss. In this regard, OTC hearing aids are better than they used to be.
But it’s a bit more complex than buying, say, a bottle of aspirin. It should work like this:
- You need an audiogram which you will get when you have a hearing assessment.
- Your general hearing health, particularly what frequency you’re having a difficult time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- Your specific hearing loss parameters will determine what the correct solution should be. The fact is that some forms of hearing loss can’t be sufficiently managed using over-the-counter devices. Even if your particular form of hearing loss can be handled in this way, you still need to select one that will work best for your scenario.
This process should, at least in theory, allow you to pick the right device for your hearing loss situation. That doesn’t necessarily mean your local pharmacy will have that device in stock, however, and close enough isn’t good enough when it comes to your hearing.
The Responsibility Part
This all sounds pretty good, in theory. For some, OTC hearing aids will cut down on the costs involved and let more people enjoy healthier hearing. But we weren’t kidding when we said it places a lot 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:
- Testing: When you get a fitting for a hearing aid, we will also verify it’s functionality. You can be certain that your hearing aid is functioning the way it was meant for you because we test it when you’re in the office.
- A good fit: You can get assistance with style and fit when you go through us. Sometimes, a mold of your ear will be taken to assure a custom fit and maximum comfort. Getting a good fit will help make certain that you are comfortable enough to wear it on a daily basis. Fit also impacts your ability to hear. You’ll be more likely to experience feedback if the device is loose in your ear.
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be adjusted so it will function efficiently in a number of common situations. As an example, we can create settings for loud locations like restaurants and settings for quiet spaces. This sort of fine-tuning can be essential to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- Advice: Tiny though they are, hearing devices can be challenging to program. 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.
- 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 distinct hearing needs.
These are just a couple of the benefits you get when you come see us for advice.
We aren’t saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are bad. But when you are selecting your device, you should use some care, and in conjunction with getting the technology you want, keeping us in the loop will help you get the care you need.