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We’re observing more examples, 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 might make this type of device more affordable. Unfortunately, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused quite a bit of worry among both medical professionals and the government. Some states are even issuing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re getting from patients. Some of these concerns are discussed below.

A Hearing Experiment is Still Needed

One main problem with over-the-counter hearing aids is that you skip over essential steps in the process, like getting a hearing consultation and hearing exam. Without these steps, you can’t really know which plan is right for you. You may also miss signs that your hearing loss is connected to other health concerns. Hearing tests also inform you of how to set up the device for best results.

Not All Hearing Loss is Identical

Most 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: everything goes 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 occurs because different wavelengths and frequencies are impacted with hearing loss. If your hearing aid, OTC or otherwise, is not precisely calibrated for your particular hearing loss, you could end up damaging your entire hearing.

The particular frequencies that are being boosted by the OTC hearing aid will typically be printed on the box (at least on higher quality versions). If you’ve had an audiogram recently you can attempt to do it on your own. And you may still need some help with the programming. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be personalized to the requirements of someone that has a more complex form of hearing loss.

How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Choices

Consumers have more options when it comes to devices to help with hearing than they ever did before. But because there are so many choices, it also makes choosing the right one that much more difficult. This is known as analysis paralysis, you likely experience it most acutely when you’re trying to find something to watch on Netflix.

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

Be certain you aren’t buying a hearing amplifier. 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 after a while, that can impair your hearing. After all, you likely don’t need all frequencies to be boosted, only the ones that you can’t hear currently. Making sounds universally loud will dull the sounds you’re already capable of hearing.

Keep us in the loop. Whether you choose to go OTC or not, it’s incredibly beneficial to talk with us first. We can check your hearing to see exactly how complex your hearing impairment is. It may or may not be a good strategy to choose an OTC hearing aid. We can also provide you with an audiogram, so you’ll be capable of choosing the right strategy for your requirements.

The best solution is usually not going to be OTC hearing aids. But with some professional help and knowledge, most of these obstacles can be overcome. Hearing is essential to your general health. It’s worth taking the extra step and get examined first.

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Main Line Audiology Consultants, PC