We all enjoy convenience. So if you can go to your local store and buy some hearing aids, it’s not hard to comprehend how this would seem appealing. No fitting, no waiting, just instant gratification. But this positive vision of the future may call for further investigation.
Store bought hearing aids may start appearing in stores around you so a little caution is needed. And in order to know what’s what, a lot of the responsibility falls on the consumer. Those decisions have relatively high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could pay the price. So, with great convenience comes great responsibility.
What Is an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
In some sense, an over-the-counter hearing aid has similarities with other hearing aids. The devices are manufactured to amplify sounds in order to compensate for the effects of hearing loss. In this regard, OTC hearing aids are better than they used to be.
But the process of selecting an OTC hearing aid is a little more complicated than buying a bottle of Tylenol. Here’s how it should work:
- You should get a hearing screening and get an audiogram.
- Your overall hearing health, particularly what frequency you’re having a hard time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- You would then adjust your choice of hearing solution to your specific hearing loss. In truth, over the counter hearing aids can’t properly treat all types of hearing impairment. In situations where they can, you’ll need to make certain you get as close to what you need as you can.
This process should, at least in theory, permit you to select the right 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 when it comes to your hearing.
The Responsibility Part
Theoretically, this most likely all sounds pretty great. For some, OTC hearing aids will reduce the costs involved and let more people enjoy healthier hearing. But the amount of responsibility that is put on the consumer is no joke.
When a consumer goes right from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, this is what they lose out on:
- A better selection: We offer all kinds of hearing aids, at various price points, that can be programmed to your hearing loss.
- A good fit: We help you pick out a model and fit of hearing aid that will feel comfortable in your ears. To ensure maximum comfort and a custom fit a mold of your ear can occasionally be made. It’s important to wear your hearing aid on a daily basis so a good fit is essential. Fit also impacts your ability to hear. If the device is too loose in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to get feedback.
- Adjustments: We can make several kinds of adjustments that can help your hearing aid function better in a number of common situations. As an example, we can program settings for loud places like restaurants and settings for quiet spaces. This type of fine-tuning can be crucial to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- Advice: Even though they are tiny, hearing devices can be complicated to program. How to care for your hearing aid, how to use it efficiently, and how to adapt to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
- 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 certain it works as intended for you.
When you come in for some hearing guidance, these are only some of the things we will help you with.
We’re not saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are bad. But when you are selecting your device, you should use some care, and including your hearing specialist will be a smart way to make certain you’re getting the care you require in addition to the technology you want.