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

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

Over the counter hearing aids may start popping up in stores near you so a little caution is needed. And that puts a lot of burden on consumers like you to understand all of the facts. 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?

In some sense, an over-the-counter hearing aid has some similarities with other hearing aids. The devices are designed to amplify sounds so they can compensate for the effects of hearing loss. OTC hearing aids, in this regard, have advanced to some extent.

But it’s a bit more complex than buying, say, a bottle of aspirin. Here’s how it should work:

  • You should have an audiogram which you will get when you have a hearing examination.
  • Your overall hearing health, particularly what frequency you’re having a difficult time hearing, will be in your audiogram.
  • Your distinct hearing loss parameters will determine what the proper solution should be. The fact is, over the counter hearing aids can’t effectively treat all forms of hearing impairment. In situations where they can, you want to make certain you get as close to what you need as you can.

Theoretically, this strategy will help you select a hearing device that’s right for your degree of hearing loss and that will perform well in all situations. That doesn’t necessarily mean your local store will have that device in stock, however, and close enough isn’t enough when it comes to your hearing.

The Responsibility Part

Theoretically, this most likely all sounds pretty good. Some people will be able to enjoy healthier hearing while cutting costs using OTC hearing aids. But we weren’t kidding around when we said it puts 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:

  • Testing: Fittings also ensure that the hearing aid is functioning the way that it should. You can be sure that your hearing aid is functioning the way it was intended for you because we test it when you’re in the office.
  • 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.
  • Advice: Hearing aids can be complicated to program even though they are tiny. How to care for your hearing aid, how to use it effectively, and how to adjust to your new hearing level, are some of the things we can take you step-by-step through.
  • A good fit: We help you pick out a model and fit of hearing aid that will feel comfortable in your ears. Occasionally, a mold of your ear will be taken to assure a custom fit and maximum comfort. It’s important to wear your hearing aid on a daily basis so a good fit is essential. Fit also impacts your ability to hear. If the device is too loose in your ear canal, you’ll be more likely to get feedback.
  • Adjustments: Your hearing aid can be adjusted so it will operate efficiently in a number of everyday situations. You can have presets that help you hear in quiet settings and other presets for noisier scenarios like crowded restaurants. This sort of fine-tuning can be crucial to the long-term enjoyment of your hearing aids.

When you come see us for some hearing guidance, these are only some of the things we will help you with.

We aren’t saying that over-the-counter hearing aids are bad. But when you are selecting your device, you should use some caution, and in conjunction with getting the technology you want, keeping your hearing specialist in the loop will help you receive 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.