Remember when you used to be able to get those gallon buckets of ice cream at the supermarket? An entire gallon of ice cream, yum!
But you begin to become more specific in your taste as you mature. Your ice cream tastes get more specialized and you have a tendency to opt for your favorite brand. Those little containers start to become more appealing.
Nevertheless, if you’re hosting a big dinner party, you’re likely to spring for those generic Kemp’s ice cream buckets. There are benefits and drawbacks to each choice. Generic is good in certain situations, but you might want more specialized ice cream in other situations.
This same attitude also applies to hearing aids. Are newer over-the-counter hearing aids worthwhile? Well, much like our ice cream illustration, it depends on what you want to do.
Hearing loss can have significant impacts
Your daily life can be significantly impacted by hearing loss. Social solitude that frequently comes along with hearing loss can cause you to avoid having conversations because you can’t hear what others are saying.
Which means you wind up estranged from your family and friends. When you go to the store you go to self-checkout so you can avoid the cashiers. It’s lonely. And as you get older, your cognitive faculties can deteriorate faster.
So it’s not just that you’re unable to hear what your friends and family are saying, but you could also be enhancing your chances of other potentially severe health problems.
Over-the-counter hearing aids – how they function
Given the harm that hearing loss can cause, it’s easy to recognize the attraction of hearing aids that are simple to get.
By their very nature, over-the-counter hearing aids are made to be convenient. Instead of going to consult a hearing specialist and getting fitted for hearing aids, you just go into your local pharmacy. You grab a pair of these devices, pay for them, and go home. They essentially amplify all of the sound around you.
This can have a profoundly positive impact on your life.
In some situations over-the-counter hearing aids can work
Over-the-counter hearing aids began appearing on store shelves in late 2022 after the Food and Drug Administration made some changes to certain rules that allowed for their broader distribution. The rule change focused on getting hearing aids to more individuals who really need them for their untreated hearing loss.
You’ve always had to go through somewhat of a process to acquire prescription hearing aids. And sometimes, that process can cause people to stay away. Over-the-counter hearing aids might not be a bad option for people who just aren’t ready to make the leap. But prescription hearing aids were never meant to be replaced by over-the-counter models.
But this means that some of the burden of recognizing when over-the-counter hearing aids are or aren’t the right option lies with the individual.
How are OTC hearing aids different than prescription hearing aids?
As a general rule, prescription hearing aids are more powerful and have much more personalized functions than OTC hearing aids. They won’t be personalized to your distinct needs and they won’t fit as well.
So is there anything helpful or beneficial about OTC hearing aids? Well, yes, in some cases. An OTC hearing aid may work best for you if:
- You keep a set around just in case your prescription hearing aids need to go in for maintenance.
- You have no plan to get your hearing assessed. (Some individuals never will, even though they definitely should.) Usually, using an OTC hearing aid will be better than using nothing.
- You’ve consulted your hearing specialist, and they endorse using an OTC hearing aid. (For optimum results, ask your hearing specialist to go over settings and style types that might work best for you.)
- Your hearing loss is in the early stages and is very simple. For mild cases of hearing loss, these devices will work ok.
It’s pretty typical for OTC presets to be pre-programmed when you get them. If your hearing loss is in the lower frequencies, some types will be best and if you have high-frequency hearing loss other designs will be the best choice. (So before you buy a hearing aid, you should certainly get a better concept of your level and type of hearing loss.).
When OTC hearing aids aren’t a good solution
So are there negative aspects to OTC hearing aids? Are there side effects of over-the-counter hearing aids?
Well, let’s just say that OTC hearing aids aren’t a great fit for everyone in every situation. OTC hearing won’t be the ideal choice for you if:
- When you’re in challenging and noisy spaces, you need to be able to hear. Depending on what surroundings you need to hear in and exactly what you’re listening to, prescription hearing aids can be personalized for those situations.
- Your hearing aids don’t fit well. A custom fit is frequently necessary for some people and OTC hearing aids don’t allow this.
- A less expensive hearing aid that doesn’t sufficiently treat your hearing loss probably isn’t worth the money you paid for it.
- You believe OTC hearing aids will save you a ton of money. Well, prescription hearing aids commonly don’t cost a great deal more than OTC hearing aids.
- You have more profound hearing loss. While OTC hearing aids can be good for less significant hearing loss, profound hearing loss will require something more powerful and more refined.
- Exactly which hearing aid to get is still unknown to you: The wrong hearing aids can actually make your hearing worse for somebody with hearing loss. (It’s not a lot different than if you turn your earbuds up to a really loud setting.)
Are there any dangers that come with OTC hearing aids? You could be wasting good money and doing more damage to your ears by using OTC hearing aids if they’re not the best solution for your distinct hearing loss.
Either way, you should consult a hearing specialist
OTC hearing aids are suitable for some people and prescription hearing aids are a good fit for others. But either way, scheduling an appointment can help your hearing aids work better.
You will be able to get better treatment when you understand more about your hearing loss. We can help guide you toward the best hearing aid for your symptoms, whether it’s OTC or prescription.
We can also help you get the most out of your new technology.
Make an appointment with us so we can help you determine what hearing aid type is best for you.