Do you remember those gallon buckets of ice cream you used to get at grocery stores? A whole gallon of ice cream, yum!
But as you grow up, you begin to get a little more specific. Your ice cream tastes get more specialized and you have a tendency to go for your favorite brand. Those little containers begin to become more enticing.
Still, if you’re hosting a big dinner party, you’re likely to go for those generic buckets of Kemp’s ice cream. There are pros and cons to each choice. In some scenarios, you will want to go with the specialized selection, and in others, the generic will be the best choice.
Of course, we’re also talking about hearing aids here. How good are those new over-the-counter hearing aids? Well, it’s much like that ice cream: it depends on what your plans are.
There can be real negative effects from hearing loss
Your day-to-day life can be significantly impacted by hearing loss. When you have untreated hearing loss, you can encounter social isolation, it’s more difficult to have even simple conversations, so you avoid situations where you confront other people who might want to speak with you.
This can cause you to feel removed from your family and friends. When you go to the store you use self-checkout so you can steer clear of the cashiers. It’s not a happy way to live. And it can bring about a faster cognitive decline as you age.
So it’s not just that you’re unable to hear what your friends and family are saying, but you could also be increasing your chances of other potentially severe health issues.
Over-the-counter hearing aids – how they work
It isn’t difficult to recognize why people would want to go towards hearing aids that can be purchased easily, given the health repercussions of hearing loss.
Convenience is the very nature of the appeal of over-the-counter hearing aids. You just walk into your local pharmacy and you never have to make an appointment with a hearing specialist. You pick up a set of these devices, pay for them, and head home. They essentially amplify all of the sound around you.
Your life can be significantly and positively impacted by this.
In some situations over-the-counter hearing aids can do the job
Over-the-counter hearing aids began appearing in stores around late 2022 after the Food and Drug Administration made rule changes that allowed for their broader distribution. The idea was that if hearing aids were more easily available, you’d end up with fewer people who had neglected hearing loss.
It’s never been hard to purchase a prescription hearing aid, but it is a process. Many individuals, regrettably, feel intimidated by this process so they avoid it. Over-the-counter hearing aids might not be a bad solution for people who just aren’t ready to make the leap. But over-the-counter hearing aids weren’t manufactured to replace their prescription counterparts.
But this means that some of the burden of understanding when over-the-counter hearing aids are or aren’t the right option lies with the consumer.
What’s the difference between over-the-counter and prescription hearing aids?
Generally speaking, OTC hearing aids aren’t quite as powerful, capable, or personalized as prescription hearing aids. They won’t be personalized to your specific needs and they won’t fit as well.
So is there anything useful or beneficial about OTC hearing aids? Well, yes, in some situations. An OTC hearing aid may work best for you if:
- You want a spare pair to use for emergencies.
- You have very basic or early-stage hearing loss. These devices are great for really mild or moderate hearing loss.
- You’re never going to get a hearing test. (You definitely should. But we also understand that some people just never will.) Usually, using an OTC hearing aid will be better than using nothing.
- Your hearing specialist is suggesting an OTC. (Hopefully, your hearing specialist will even advise which style or type, and what settings will work best.)
Typically, OTC hearing aids are sold with specific presets already programmed in. Some types are more effective for low-frequency hearing loss, others might be effective for high-frequency hearing loss. (So before you purchase a hearing aid, you should definitely get a better concept of your level and type of hearing loss.).
OTC hearing aids are often not the ideal choice
So are there negative aspects to OTC hearing aids? Will you experience undesirable effects from OTC hearing aids?
Well, let’s just say that OTC hearing aids aren’t a great fit for everybody in every circumstance. OTC hearing won’t be the ideal option for you if:
- OTC hearing aids are not custom fit the way you may need them to be. In some cases, you might require something with a custom fit, which is only feasible with a prescription hearing aid.
- A cheaper hearing aid that does not sufficiently treat your hearing loss most likely isn’t worth the money you paid for it.
- You’re only thinking about OTC hearing aids because of perceived cost savings. Well, prescription hearing aids frequently don’t cost much more than OTC hearing aids.
- You don’t know precisely which hearing aid to purchase: For some individuals who have hearing loss, the wrong hearing aids can actually harm their ears. (It’s comparable to wearing really loud earbuds.)
- You need to hear in challenging or noisy environments. 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.
- You have more severe 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.
What are the dangers of over-the-counter hearing aids? Generally speaking, if you aren’t a good candidate for OTC hearing aids, you could be wasting some money or making your hearing loss worse.
Consult a hearing specialist either way
OTC hearing aids are a good fit for some individuals and prescription hearing aids are a good fit for others. Whichever option is best for your circumstance, your hearing aids will work better after you get an appointment with us.
You will be able to get better treatment once you know more about your hearing loss. We can help steer you toward the best hearing aid for your situation, 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 figure out what hearing aid type is right for you.