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Over-the-counter hearing aid choices are showing up more often in stores and online. Getting help for hearing loss is supposed to be easier with these instruments. They also may make this kind of device more affordable. Unfortunately, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused quite a bit of concern from both medical professionals and the government. Some states are even releasing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re receiving from patients. Here are just a few concerns.

A Hearing Exam is Still Necessary

One main concern of over-the-counter hearing aids is that you neglect essential steps in the process, such as having a hearing evaluation and hearing test. It will be difficult to know what the correct plan for your hearing loss is without these steps. You might also miss signs that your hearing loss is connected to other health concerns. Hearing tests also let you know how to program the device for best results.

There Are Different Levels And Kinds of Hearing Loss

Most people think that hearing loss is just a reduction of the volume of sounds you hear. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the result is immediate: everything gets quiet.

But real hearing loss is more like fooling around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your music app on your computer). That’s because hearing loss is generally asymmetrical, affecting this frequency or that wavelength before others. If your hearing aid, OTC or otherwise, is not precisely calibrated for your particular hearing loss, you could end up damaging your entire hearing.

The specific frequencies that are being amplified by the OTC hearing aid will usually be printed on the packaging (at least on higher quality models). If you’ve had a recent audiogram you can try to do it by yourself. And you may still need some help with the programming. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be personalized to the requirements of someone that has a more complex type of hearing loss.

How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Decisions

Right now, consumers have the widest array of hearing aid options ever. But it’s also more difficult to make some decisions because there are so many choices. This is called analysis paralysis, you likely experience it most acutely when you’re attempting to find something to watch on Netflix.

Here are a couple of ways you can make some wise choices with your hearing aids:

Be certain you’re not buying a hearing amplifier. It can often be challenging to tell the difference. A hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on all wavelengths of sound, not just specific frequencies like a hearing aid does. And that can be bad for your ears over time. Obviously, you only need to boost the frequencies you have trouble hearing. If your hearing is weak in the high register, you obviously don’t need to increase the lower frequencies which could harm your hearing.

Talk to us. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s very beneficial to speak with us first. We can test your hearing to see just how complex your hearing loss is. It may or may not be a good plan to choose an OTC hearing aid. We can also provide you with an audiogram, so you’ll be capable of choosing the best strategy for your needs.

The best choice is often not going to be OTC hearing aids. But it’s important to remember that most of these issues can be easily worked out with some personal education and a professional evaluation. It’s worthwhile to take the time to get some help first because hearing is an essential part of your general health.

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