We all enjoy convenience. So it’s easy to grasp the appeal of hearing aids that you can get at your local store or pharmacy. No waiting, no fitting, just instant gratification. But we might need to investigate this wonderful vision of the future a bit further.
A little caution is required because over-the-counter hearing aids might start appearing in stores near you. And that puts a lot of responsibility on consumers like you to know what’s what. Those decisions have relatively high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could suffer. So, with great ease comes great responsibility.
What’s an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
To some degree, an over-the-counter hearing aid has similarities with other hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds so they can compensate for the effects of hearing loss. In this manner, OTC hearing aids are of a higher quality than they used to be.
But the process of choosing an OTC hearing aid is a bit more involved than buying a bottle of ibuprofen. Here’s how it should work:
- You should have an audiogram which you will get when you have a hearing evaluating.
- Your audiogram would give you an indication of your general hearing health, such as what frequencies of sound you need assistance hearing.
- Your specific hearing loss criteria will identify what the appropriate solution should be. In truth, over the counter hearing aids can’t effectively treat all forms of hearing impairment. Even if your specific type of hearing loss can be addressed in this way, you still need to decide on one that will work best for your scenario.
Theoretically, this process will help you pick a hearing device that’s right for your level of hearing loss and that will work well in all situations. That doesn’t automatically mean your local pharmacy will have that device available, however, and close enough isn’t enough with regards to your hearing.
The Responsibility Part
This all sounds pretty great, in theory. Some people will be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs using OTC hearing aids. But the amount of responsibility that is placed on the consumer is no joke.
When a consumer goes straight from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, this is what they lose out on:
- A better selection: We offer a wide variety of hearing aids, at various price points, that can be programmed to your hearing loss.
- Advice: Hearing aids can be difficult to program even though they’re tiny. We can walk you 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 good fit: You can get guidance with style and fit when you go through us. Occasionally, a mold of your ear will be taken to assure a custom fit and maximum comfort. It’s important to wear your hearing aid every day so a good fit is essential. Fit also impacts your ability to hear. If the device doesn’t fit tightly in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to have feedback.
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be fine-tuned so it will function effectively in a number of everyday situations. You can have presets that help you hear in quiet settings and other presets for louder situations like crowded restaurants. This sort of fine-tuning can be essential to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- Testing: When you get fitted for a hearing aid, we will also verify it’s functionality. You can be certain that your hearing aid is working the way it was meant for you because we test it when you’re in the office.
When you come in for some hearing guidance, these are only some of the things we will help you with.
It’s worth mentioning that over-the-counter hearing aids aren’t always a bad thing. It’s just that you need to use a little bit of caution when making your selection, and in conjunction with getting the technology you want, including your hearing specialist will help you get the care you need.