We all love convenience. So it’s easy to grasp the appeal of hearing aids that you can get at your local store or pharmacy. Instant gratification with no waiting and no fitting. But this positive vision of the future might require further investigation.
Store bought hearing aids might start popping up in stores around you so a little caution is required. And in order to know what’s what, a lot of the burden falls on the consumer. Those decisions have relatively high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could pay the price. So, with great ease comes great responsibility.
What Is 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 designed to amplify sounds in order to compensate for the effects of hearing loss. OTC hearing aids, in doing this, have advanced to some extent.
But the process of purchasing an OTC hearing aid is a little more complicated than buying a bottle of Tylenol. It should work like this:
- You should have a hearing assessment and get an audiogram.
- Your general hearing health, particularly what frequency you’re having a tough time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
- You would then match your choice of hearing solution to your particular hearing loss. The fact is, over the counter hearing aids can’t effectively treat all kinds of hearing impairment. In situations where they can, you’ll need to make certain you get as close to what you need as possible.
This process should, at least theoretically, enable you to pick the best device for your hearing loss situation. The real issues can start when you actually go to your local store to try and buy the right device for you.
The Part About Responsibility
In theory, this probably all sounds pretty great. For some, OTC hearing aids will cut down on the costs involved and allow more people to enjoy healthier hearing. But we weren’t joking when we said it places a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
When a consumer goes straight from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, here’s what they miss out on:
- Adjustments: We can make several kinds of adjustments that can help your hearing aid work better in a number of common settings. You can have presets that help you hear in quiet environments and other presets for louder situations like crowded restaurants. In order to get the most out of your hearing aids over the long run, this fine tuning is crucial.
- Testing: When you get fitted for a hearing aid, we will also test it’s functionality. You can be certain that your hearing aid is working the way it was meant for you because it’s tested when you’re in the office.
- Advice: Hearing aids can be complicated to program even though they’re tiny. How to care for your hearing aid, how to use it efficiently, and how to adjust to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
- 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 style and fit when you go through us. In some cases, a mold of your ear will be taken to ensure a custom fit and maximum comfort. Achieving a good fit will help make sure that you are comfortable enough to wear it every day. Your ability to hear is also effected by fit. If the device is too loose in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to have feedback.
These are just a few of the benefits you get when you come in for advice.
It’s worth pointing out that over-the-counter hearing aids aren’t always a bad thing. It’s just that you should use a 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.