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Over-the-counter hearing aid options are showing up more frequently online and in stores. These instruments are meant to make it easier to get assistance with hearing loss. They also may make this type of device more affordable. Unfortunately, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused a lot of worry from both medical experts and the government. Some states are even issuing warnings because of the number of complaints they’re receiving from patients. Here are just a few concerns.

Don’t Skip a Hearing Exam

One main concern of over-the-counter hearing aids is that you neglect important steps in the process, like having a hearing consultation and hearing test. Without these steps, it is impossible to know which plan is correct for you. You may also fail to recognize signs that your hearing loss is related to other health concerns. We can also help you figure out what the best settings will be when you come in for an exam.

Not All Hearing Loss is The Same

Many people think that hearing loss is simply a reduction of the volume of sounds you hear. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the effect is immediate: everything goes quiet.

But changing the eq levels on a high end stereo is more like real hearing loss. That’s because hearing loss is usually irregular, impacting this frequency or that wavelength before others. So you may actually be doing additional damage to your hearing if your hearing aid is not properly calibrated.

The exact frequencies that are being amplified by the OTC hearing aid will typically be printed on the box (at least on higher quality versions). If you have a recent audiogram you can try to do it by yourself. And you may still want some assistance with the programming. When your hearing loss is particularly complex, OTC hearing aids may not provide the kind of customization you’ll need.

How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Decisions

At this point in history, consumers have the largest selection of hearing aid choices ever. But it’s also harder to make some decisions because there are so many options. 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:

Some amplification devices are marketed to resemble hearing aids so be careful of this. It can often be challenging to tell the difference. A hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on all wavelengths of sound, not just distinct frequencies like a hearing aid can. And that can be harmful for your ears over time. After all, you likely don’t require all frequencies to be louder, only the ones that you can’t hear currently. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already able to hear.

Talk to us. Whether you opt to go OTC or not, it’s very important to talk with us first. We can find out how complex your hearing loss is with a basic hearing test. An OTC hearing aid might not be a good match. We can also provide you with an audiogram, so you’ll be capable of choosing the correct solution for your requirements.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are often not the best solution. But with a little professional assistance and knowledge, most of these difficulties can be overcome. It’s worthwhile to take the time to get some help first because hearing is an important part of your general health.

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