The Problem With Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids

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

We’re observing more instances, online and on TV, of over-the-counter hearing aids. Getting help for hearing loss is supposed to be easier with these instruments. They also increase the affordability of hearing assistance. But medical professionals and even government officials have some serious concerns about some of the repercussions of using over-the-counter hearing aids. Some states are even issuing warnings because they have received complaints from individuals who have used them. Here are just a few concerns.

Don’t Skip a Hearing Test

The idea that you can just go get a hearing aid at the store or online without going through essential steps like a hearing exam is a significant concern. It will be difficult to know what the best plan for your hearing loss is without these steps. You might also fail to recognize signs that your hearing loss is connected to other health concerns. Hearing tests also let you know how to set up the device for best results.

There Are Different Degrees And Kinds of Hearing Loss

Many people think that hearing loss is just a reduction of the volume of sounds you hear. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the result is instantaneous: the volume rapidly goes down.

But adjusting the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like actual hearing loss. This occurs because different wavelengths and frequencies are effected with hearing loss. So you may actually be doing further damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not properly calibrated.

The particular frequencies that are being amplified by the OTC hearing aid will usually be printed on the packaging (at least on higher quality versions). If you have a recent audiogram you can try to do it by yourself. And you may still need some assistance with the programming. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be personalized to the needs of somebody that has a more complex kind of hearing loss.

How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Decisions

Consumers have more choices in terms of devices to help with hearing than at any point in history. But because there are so many options, it also makes deciding on the right one that much more difficult. This is called analysis paralysis, you likely experience it most acutely when you’re trying to find something to watch on Netflix.

You can make some good choices with your hearing aids by doing the following:

Some amplification devices are advertised to look like hearing aids so be cautious of this. It can often be hard to tell the difference. A hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on all frequencies of sound, not just specific frequencies like a hearing aid can. And over time, that can impair your hearing. After all, you likely don’t require all frequencies to be louder, only the ones that you can’t hear right now. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already able to hear.

Keep us involved. It’s really important to have a consultation with us whichever way you decide to go. We can test your hearing to see exactly how complex your hearing loss is. It may or may not be a good strategy to go with an OTC hearing aid. You will be in a more informed position to decide which solution meets your needs when you get an audiogram.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are often not the ideal solution. But it’s important to consider that most of these problems can be easily worked out with a little personal education and a professional assessment. It’s beneficial to take the time to get some help first because hearing is an important part of your overall 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.