Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids: Why You Should Always Consult with an Audiologist
If you are experiencing difficulty hearing, it’s best not to rely on over the counter hearing aids.
Over-the-counter hearing aids, also known as OTC hearing aids, are a new category of hearing aids.
Can they be considered as game changers? Probably. The fact that these devices can be bought without needing to visit an audiologist is a big shift from the traditional (and standard) process of acquiring hearing aids.
Who can use OTC hearing aids?
Over-the-counter hearing aids are marketed to help adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. OTC hearing aids can supposedly make sounds louder. The U.S Food and Drug Administration will regulate OTC hearing aids as medical devices.
What’s the difference between over-the-counter hearing aids and traditional hearing aids?
OTC hearing aids are considered to be an alternative to traditional FDA-regulated hearing aids, which are currently exclusively available from hearing healthcare professionals such as audiologists, ENTs and hearing aid specialists.
From an audiologist’s point of view, getting your hearing aids from a hearing care professional is still the best option because the process of acquiring hearing aids is not as simple as buying an item in the grocery.
Hearing aids need to be fitted accordingly by a hearing healthcare professional. The device will also be adjusted based on the type and degree of hearing loss.
Traditional hearing aids can cater to almost any type and degree of hearing loss. With proper assessment and diagnosis, audiologists can recommend the best hearing solution for hard of hearing patients.
Put simply, there is a big difference between over the counter hearing aids and professional grade hearing aids. For most, it’s about budget.
It is highly discouraged to purchase an over-the-counter device without consulting a hearing healthcare professional or audiologist.
Over-the-counter Hearing Aids: Not For Severe Hearing Loss
OTC hearing aids are primarily marketed for adults who have mild to moderate hearing loss.
Over-the-counter hearing aids are not meant for adults for severe hearing loss or significant difficulty in hearing.
People with severe hearing loss will not benefit from over the counter hearing aids. It’s because OTC hearing devices may not be able to amplify sounds at extremely high levels and frequencies needed for severe hearing loss.
Currently, over the counter hearing aids that are available in the market are not intended for individuals with hearing loss. These devices are simply known as personal sound amplification products (PSAPs).
PSAPs are intended to be used by people without hearing loss simply needing to boost their ability to hear certain sounds in certain situations. Take note that PSAPs are not regulated by the FDA so be wary in purchasing one.
If you are experiencing difficulty hearing, it’s best not to rely on over the counter hearing aids. Instead, seek the help of an audiologist to get the best hearing solution that you need.
Trouble hearing even in quiet settings?
Over the counter hearing aids are not for you.
People who have trouble hearing loud sounds, over-the-counter hearing aids are not the best option. It’s best to consult with a hearing healthcare professional when daily sounds like cars, traffic, doorbells, and music seem distant, distorted or muffled.
These are signs that over-the-counter hearing aids won’t work well or won’t work at all.
Over-the-counter Hearing Aids: A Cheaper Alternative
It’s not really surprising that OTC hearing aids are a lot cheaper than hearing aids prescribed by an audiologist.
The question is – why?
While consumers might think that they are saving money by choosing over the counter hearing aids, in reality, the quality of the device may be highly compromised.
With over the counter hearing aids, you get a 50-50 chance of success or failure. If you really want to try out over the counter hearing aids thinking that you’ve got nothing to lose except a few bucks, then there’s no problem with that. Just manage your expectations because OTC hearing aids are a really far cry from prescribed or traditional hearing aids.
Atlantic Hearing Care: Helping You Hear Better
Audiologists at Atlantic Hearing Care MA are experts in helping patients find the appropriate hearing aid or other hearing solution to facilitate better hearing.
If you need a pair of high-quality hearing aids with a customized fit to help you hear better, Atlantic Hearing Care is open to serve you. Call us today to schedule an appointment at either of our clinics in Swampscott or Peabody MA.