We all enjoy convenience. So if you’re able to go to your local store and buy some hearing aids, it’s not difficult to recognize how this would seem attractive. No waiting, no fitting, just instant gratification. But we may need to investigate this wonderful vision of the future a little further.
A little caution is required because over-the-counter hearing aids may start appearing in stores around you. 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 suffer. So, with great ease comes great responsibility.
What’s an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid?
In some sense, an over-the-counter hearing aid has some similarities with other hearing aids. The devices are manufactured to amplify sounds so they can correct for the effects of hearing loss. In this regard, OTC hearing aids are better than they used to be.
But the process of purchasing an OTC hearing aid is a bit more complex than buying a bottle of ibuprofen. It should work like this:
- You should get a hearing screening and receive an audiogram.
- Your audiogram would give you a readout of your overall hearing health, including what frequencies of sound you need assistance hearing.
- Your distinct hearing loss parameters will determine what the proper solution should be. 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.
In theory, this strategy will help you select a hearing device that’s correct for your amount of hearing loss and that will function well in all situations. The real hassles can start when you actually visit your local store to try and find the correct device for you.
The Part About Responsibility
In theory, this probably all sounds pretty great. Some people might be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs with OTC hearing aids. But we weren’t kidding when we said it places a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
Consumers will lose out on the following things if they choose to go from their audiogram to an OTC hearing aid:
- Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be fine-tuned so it will function effectively in several everyday situations. You can have presets that help you hear in quiet environments and other presets for noisier situations like crowded restaurants. This sort of fine-tuning can be crucial to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.
- A better selection: We offer a wide variety of hearing aids, at different price points, that can be programmed to your hearing loss.
- A good fit: You can get guidance with fit and style when you go through us. Occasionally, a mold of your ear will be taken to ensure a custom fit and maximum comfort. It’s important to wear your hearing aid daily so a good fit is crucial. Your ability to hear is also affected by fit. If the device is too loose in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to get feedback.
- Testing: When you get a fitting for a hearing aid, we will also test it’s functionality. You can be sure that your hearing aid is working the way it was intended for you because it’s tested when you’re in the office.
- Advice: Hearing aids can be complicated to program even though they are tiny. How to take care of your hearing aid, how to use it effectively, and how to adjust to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can walk you through.
These are just a couple of the benefits you get when you come see us for advice.
It’s worth pointing out that over-the-counter hearing aids aren’t necessarily a bad thing. But when you are selecting your device, you should use some caution, and keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will be a smart way to make certain you’re getting the care you require in addition to the technology you want.