Over-The-Counter Hearing Devices
What You Need to Know About OTC Hearing Aids
If you’ve read the news lately, you know that new research is coming out all the time linking hearing loss to other major health concerns like cognitive decline, depression, and an increased risk of accidents. Yet many people still delay treatment in part because they feel they can’t afford it. At Hearing Services West, we’ve always looked for ways to make hearing devices more affordable. Thankfully, new technology, legislation, and changes in insurance are helping to make hearing loss treatments more affordable than ever.
In fact, hearing technology has had a number of exciting breakthroughs in the last few years which has led to lower-cost options including over-the-counter devices available in stores and pharmacies.
But don’t assume that because you can purchase a device over the counter that it’s a do-it-yourself endeavor. There’s a lot of expertise that goes into choosing the option most likely to be effective for your hearing loss. The clarity of sound can be affected radically by the way it fits, what settings you use and whether it addresses the underlying problem. The first step in treating hearing loss should always be a hearing test with a licensed audiologist.
Why Do I Need a Hearing Test?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that hearing aids and hearables are just mini-speakers that amplify sound. In reality, they do a lot more than that, and some device styles are not effective treatments for higher-levels or specific types of hearing loss. A hearing test from a licensed professional is critical for determining your ability to hear certain frequencies, to understand speech in quiet and noisy environments, and to find the most appropriate solution for your individual needs.
Hearing Devices Are Not Just About Volume
Hearing devices need to be “tuned” to your specific hearing loss. Here are just a few reasons this is important:
- If you universally raise the volume, the volume will be too high in the ranges where your hearing is normal which can damage your hearing further.
- Some frequencies will be uncomfortably loud if they are not adjusted properly…which may lead you to stop using your device.
- Sound clarity will be affected if the settings aren’t correct. What’s the point of increasing the volume if you still can’t make out what someone is saying to you?
- A hearing aid that is not fit with a recent audiogram may damage your hearing more than help it.
Clarity of Sound Depends on Getting the Right Device for Your Hearing Loss
There are other features that are important when choosing a hearing device. For example, hearing aids often have artificial intelligence that improves sound quality, helps alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus, or reduces background noise. Depending on the exact nature of your hearing loss, these features may be important to address your hearing issues effectively.
In addition, a hearing specialist can help you monitor your hearing loss over time and adjust the settings in response to subtle changes.
Hearing Loss Affects Your Overall Health
Not only has untreated hearing loss been associated with dementia and depression, it can also affect your health in subtle ways. In fact, studies have shown that untreated hearing loss can increase your healthcare costs by as much as 40% in just 10 years. Luckily, the reverse is also true: getting proper treatment for hearing loss has been shown to help restore cognitive abilities and reduce depression in adults with hearing loss. The key is to make sure the treatment is effective for the severity and type of your hearing loss. This all starts with a hearing test and evaluation.