We all love convenience. So if you’re able to go to your local store and buy some hearing aids, it’s not hard to understand how this would seem appealing. Instant gratification with no fitting and no waiting. But this wonderful vision of the future could call for deeper investigation.
Store bought hearing aids may start appearing in stores around you so a little caution is necessary. And in order to know what’s what, a lot of the burden falls on the buyer. Those decisions have relatively high stakes; get it wrong and your hearing could pay the price. So, with great convenience comes great responsibility.
Over The Counter Hearing Aids – What Are They?
Over the counter hearing aids, in some ways, have similarities with other types of hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds in order to compensate for the effects of hearing loss. In this manner, OTC hearing aids are of a higher quality than they used to be.
But it’s a little more involved than buying, say, a bottle of aspirin. Here’s how it should work:
- You should get a hearing screening and receive an audiogram.
- Your audiogram would give you an indication of your overall hearing health, including what frequencies of sound you need help hearing.
- You would then adjust your choice of hearing solution to your particular hearing loss. The fact is that some kinds of hearing loss can’t be sufficiently treated with over-the-counter devices. Even if your specific type of hearing loss can be addressed in this way, you still need to pick one that will work best for your scenario.
This strategy should, at least theoretically, allow you to select the proper device for your hearing loss situation. The real problems can begin when you actually visit your local store to try and find the best device for you.
The Responsibility Part
This all sounds pretty great, in theory. For some, OTC hearing aids will cut down on the costs involved and let more people enjoy healthier hearing. But we weren’t joking when we said it places a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of consumers.
Consumers will miss out on the following things if they choose to go from their audiogram to an OTC hearing aid:
- Advice: Hearing aids can be complicated to program even though they are tiny. We can walk you through how to use your hearing aid effectively, how to care for them, and how to adapt to your new level of hearing.
- Testing: When you get a fitting for a hearing aid, we will also verify it’s functionality. You can be sure that your hearing aid is functioning the way it was meant for you because we test it when you’re in the office.
- A good fit: You can get assistance with style and fit when you go through us. 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 daily so a good fit is crucial. Fit also impacts your ability to hear. If the device doesn’t fit tightly in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to have feedback.
- A better selection: We can fit you with one of the many types of hearing aids that we offer at a variety of price points programmed to your specific hearing needs.
- Adjustments: We can make several kinds of adjustments that can help your hearing aid function better in a number of common situations. You can have presets that help you hear in quiet environments and other presets for louder scenarios like crowded restaurants. If you want to get the most from your hearing aids over time, this fine tuning is essential.
When you come in for some hearing assistance, these are just some of the things we will help you with.
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 little caution when making your selection, and including your hearing specialist will be a good way to make sure you’re getting the care you need as well as the technology you want.