Pharmacy aisle with over the counter hearing aids, but no one to help with selection or fitting.

We all enjoy convenience. So it’s easy to comprehend the appeal of hearing aids that you can get at your local store or pharmacy. No fitting, no waiting, just instant gratification. But we might need to investigate this rosy vision of the future a bit more.

Over the counter hearing aids may start popping up in stores near you so a bit of caution is required. And that puts a lot of burden on consumers like you to know what’s what. The stakes of those decisions are relatively high; get it wrong and your hearing could pay the price. So, with great ease comes great responsibility.

Over The Counter Hearing Aids – What Are They?

To some degree, an over-the-counter hearing aid has similarities with other hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds in order to correct for the effects of hearing loss. In this way, OTC hearing aids are better than they once were.

But it’s a bit more involved than buying, say, a bottle of aspirin. It should work like this:

  • You need an audiogram which you will get when you have a hearing screening.
  • 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 correct solution should be. The fact is, over the counter hearing aids can’t effectively treat all types of hearing impairment. In situations where they can, you’ll need to make sure you get as close to what you need as you can.

In theory, this strategy will help you pick a hearing device that’s correct for your level of hearing loss and that will work well in all environments. That doesn’t automatically mean your local store will have that device available, however, and close enough isn’t enough when it comes to your hearing.

The Part About Responsibility

This all sounds pretty great, in theory. Some people will be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs with OTC hearing aids. But the amount of responsibility that is put on the consumer is no joke.

When a consumer goes straight from an audiogram to an OTC hearing aid, this is what they lose out on:

  • 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 working the way it was meant for you because it’s tested when you’re in the office.
  • Advice: Hearing aids can be difficult to program even though they are tiny. How to care for your hearing aid, how to use it efficiently, and how to adapt to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
  • A better selection: We can fit you with one of the numerous kinds of hearing aids that we offer at various price points programmed to your particular hearing needs.
  • A good fit: You can get help 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. It’s important to wear your hearing aid on a daily basis so a good fit is essential. 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 have feedback.
  • Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be fine-tuned so it will function effectively in a number of everyday situations. For example, we can program settings for loud locations like restaurants and settings for quiet spaces. This kind of fine-tuning can be crucial to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.

These are just a few of the advantages you get when you come see us for assistance.

It’s worth mentioning that over-the-counter hearing aids aren’t always a bad thing. But when you are making your selection, you should use some caution, and in conjunction with getting the technology you want, including your hearing specialist will help you get the care you need.

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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.

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