The Trouble With Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids

Man gets over-the-counter hearing aids without getting a hearing test.

Over-the-counter hearing aid options are appearing more often online and in stores. These devices are meant to make it convenient to get help for hearing loss. They also might make this kind of device more affordable. But medical experts and even government officials have some significant worries about some of the consequences of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even releasing warnings because they have received complaints from people who have used them. Some of these concerns are outlined below.

Don’t Neglect Getting a Hearing Exam

The idea that you can just go get a hearing aid online or at the store without dealing with important steps like a hearing test is a significant worry. It will be hard to know what the correct solution for your hearing loss is without these steps. Also, your hearing loss might be linked to other health problems which you could miss. Hearing tests also let you know how to program the device for best results.

Not All Hearing Loss is The Same

Most people think that hearing loss is just a lowering of the volume of sounds you hear. The result is immediate when you do that on your stereo: everything gets quiet.

But actual hearing loss is more like fooling around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your audio app on your computer). This develops because different wavelengths and frequencies are impacted with hearing loss. So you may actually be doing further damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not correctly calibrated.

The specific frequencies that are being amplified by the OTC hearing aid will usually be printed on the box (at least on higher quality models). If you’ve had an audiogram recently you can attempt to do it by yourself. And you may still want some assistance with the programming. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be customized to the requirements of somebody that has a more complex form of hearing loss.

Making Smart Hearing Aid Decisions

Right now, consumers have the largest selection of hearing aid choices ever. But it’s also harder to make some decisions because there are so many options. You’ve probably experienced this type of “analysis paralysis” when flipping through the channels and trying to choose something to watch.

Here are a couple of ways you can make some practical decisions with your hearing aids:

Some amplification devices are advertised to look like hearing aids so be careful of this. One issue that customers have encountered is telling the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. Where a hearing aid will increase only certain wavelengths of sound, a hearing amplifier will just turn the volume up on everything. And that can be bad for your ears in the long run. Obviously, you only need to increase the frequencies you have trouble hearing. If your hearing is weak in the high register, you obviously don’t require to increase the lower end which could harm your hearing.

Speak with us. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly important to talk with us first. We can figure out how complex your hearing impairment is with a simple hearing test. An OTC hearing aid might not be a good fit. We can also do an audiogram, so you’ll be capable of choosing the best strategy for your needs.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are frequently not the ideal solution. But with a little professional assistance and education, most of these challenges can be overcome. It’s worthwhile to take the time to get some assistance first because hearing is an essential part of your general health.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.