We all enjoy convenience. So it’s easy to realize the attraction of hearing aids that you can buy at your local store or pharmacy. No fitting, no waiting, just instant gratification. But we might need to investigate this rosy vision of the future a bit further.
A little caution is important because over-the-counter hearing aids might start popping up in stores near you. And in order to know all of the facts, a lot of the responsibility falls on the buyer. 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.
Over The Counter Hearing Aids – What Are They?
Over the counter hearing aids, in some ways, have similarities with other kinds of hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds so they can compensate for the effects of hearing loss. In this regard, OTC hearing aids are of a higher quality than they used to be.
But the process of purchasing an OTC hearing aid is a bit more involved than buying a bottle of ibuprofen. It should work like this:
- You should get a hearing assessment and receive an audiogram.
- Your audiogram would give you a readout of your overall hearing health, including what frequencies of sound you need help hearing.
- Your specific hearing loss parameters will identify what the correct solution should be. The fact is, over the counter hearing aids can’t properly treat all kinds of hearing impairment. In situations where they can, you want to make certain you get as close to what you need as possible.
This process should, at least theoretically, permit you to select the correct device for your hearing loss situation. That doesn’t necessarily mean your local store will have that device in stock, however, and close enough isn’t good enough with regards to your hearing.
The Responsibility Part
In theory, this most likely all sounds pretty good. Some people might be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs with OTC hearing aids. But we weren’t kidding around when we said it places a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
When a consumer goes straight from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, this is what they miss out on:
- A good fit: We help you pick out a style and fit of hearing aid that will feel comfortable in your ears. To ensure a custom fit and a maximum comfort a mold of your ear can sometimes be made. Getting a good fit will help make certain that you are comfortable enough to wear it on a daily basis. Your ability to hear is also effected by fit. 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 effectively in a number of everyday situations. For instance, we can create settings for loud places like restaurants and settings for quiet places. This kind of fine-tuning can be crucial to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- Advice: Hearing aids can be complicated to program even though they are tiny. We can walk you through how to use your hearing aid effectively, how to care for them, and how to adjust to your new level of hearing.
- Testing: Fittings also ensure that the hearing aid is functioning the way that it should. This includes testing it while you’re still in the office and making sure it works as intended for you.
- A better selection: We can fit you with one of the numerous kinds of hearing aids that we offer at a variety of price points programmed to your specific hearing needs.
These are just a couple of the benefits you get when you come see us for assistance.
It’s worth mentioning that over-the-counter hearing aids aren’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that you need to use a bit of caution when making your selection, and keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will be a good way to make sure you’re getting the care you require in conjunction with the technology you want.