Do you recall those gallon buckets of ice cream you used to find at supermarkets? An entire gallon of ice cream, yum!
But you begin to become more specific in your taste as you get older. You start going for the more specialized ice cream: the Turkey Hill, the Tillamook, the Ben & Jerry’s. Suddenly, those smaller containers are the ones that are appealing.
But you will still probably opt for that big bucket if you’re hosting a big dinner party. Which means that each kind of ice cream has its own unique strengths and drawbacks. Generic is good in some circumstances, but you may want more specific ice cream in other circumstances.
Obviously, we’re also talking about hearing aids here. How good are those new over-the-counter hearing aids? Well, much like our ice cream example, it depends on what you want to do.
Hearing loss can have serious impacts
Your daily life can be significantly impacted by hearing loss. When you have neglected hearing loss, you can encounter social solitude, it’s harder to have even simple conversations, so you steer clear of situations where you confront other people who might want to speak with you.
This can make you feel removed from your family and friends. When you go to the store you use self-checkout so you can avoid the cashiers. It’s lonely. And it can bring about a faster cognitive decline as you age.
So it isn’t only 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.
How do over-the-counter hearing aids work?
Given the harm that hearing loss can lead to, it’s not very difficult to see the appeal of hearing aids that are simple to buy.
Convenience is the very backbone of the appeal of over-the-counter hearing aids. You simply go into your local pharmacy and you never have to make an appointment with a hearing specialist. You’re on your way home right after you get and pay for these devices. They basically amplify all of the sound around you.
Your life can be significantly and positively impacted by this.
Over-the-counter hearing aids can do the trick in some situations
In 2022 the Food and Drug Administration changed the rule about the sale of hearing aids that allowed stores like pharmacies to sell them. The rule change aimed at getting hearing aids to more people who really need them for their neglected hearing loss.
You’ve always had to go through somewhat of a process to get prescription hearing aids. Many individuals, regrettably, feel intimidated by this process so they avoid it. Over-the-counter hearing aids may not be a bad choice for individuals who just aren’t ready to make the leap. But prescription hearing aids were never meant to be replaced by over-the-counter models.
Unfortunately, this means that consumers now bear some of the burden of determining when OTC hearing aids are a good choice (and when they aren’t).
How are OTC hearing aids different from prescription hearing aids?
In general, OTC hearing aids aren’t quite as powerful, efficient, or personalized as prescription hearing aids. They will also not fit quite as well, and they won’t be personalized to your needs.
So, are over-the-counter hearing aids worthwhile at all? There actually can be some benefits to an OTC in specific circumstances. OTC hearing aids might be the best choice if:
- You have no plan to get your hearing checked. (Some individuals never will, even though they absolutely should.) Usually, using an OTC hearing aid will be better than using nothing.
- Your hearing specialist is suggesting an OTC. (For best 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 phases and is really simple. For mild instances of hearing loss, these devices will work just fine.
- You keep a set around just in case your prescription hearing aids need to go in for maintenance.
Typically, OTC hearing aids are sold with specific presets already in place. If your hearing loss is in the lower frequencies, some models will be the right choice and if you have high-frequency hearing loss other designs will be the best option. (This is why it’s good to know more about your own hearing loss before you buy any hearing aid, OTC or not).
When OTC hearing aids are not a practical solution
So are there downsides to OTC hearing aids? Will you experience undesirable effects from OTC hearing aids?
Well every scenario won’t call for OTC hearing aids, let’s just say. OTC hearing will not be the best option for you if:
- Is the money you spent really worth it if that OTC hearing aid isn’t effective in treating your hearing loss?
- You believe OTC hearing aids will save you a ton of money. Well, prescription hearing aids frequently don’t cost much more than OTC hearing aids.
- You don’t know exactly which hearing aid to buy: The wrong hearing aids can actually make your hearing worse for someone with hearing loss. (It’s comparable to using really loud earbuds.)
- Your hearing loss has advanced to a fairly severe stage. While OTC hearing aids can be helpful for mild and moderate hearing loss, severe hearing loss will require something more powerful and more refined.
- You need to hear in challenging or noisy settings. The majority of prescription hearing aids can be customized depending on what you need to hear and where you need to hear it.
- Your hearing aids don’t fit very well. A custom fit is sometimes necessary for some people and OTC hearing aids don’t allow this.
What are the dangers of over-the-counter hearing aids? You could be wasting good money and further damaging 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 a good fit for some individuals and prescription hearing aids are the best choice for others. But either way, making an appointment can help your hearing aids work better.
You will be capable of getting better treatment when you know more about your hearing loss. Whether your hearing loss requires prescription hearing aids or OTC hearing aids, we can help you get the best treatment for your situation.
In the same way, we can help you better adjust to a new set of hearing aids, and get the most out of the technology.
Schedule an appointment with us so we can help you determine what hearing aid type is best for you.