Do you recall those gallon buckets of ice cream you used to get at grocery stores? An entire gallon of ice cream, yum!
But as you get older, you start to get a little more specific. You begin opting for the more specialized ice cream: the Turkey Hill, the Tillamook, the Ben & Jerry’s. Those little containers start to become more enticing.
But you will still probably opt for that big bucket if you’re having a large dinner party. Which means that each type of ice cream has its own unique strengths and drawbacks. Generic is good in certain circumstances, but you might want more specialized ice cream in other situations.
Obviously, we’re also discussing hearing aids here. Are newer over-the-counter hearing aids any good? Well, much like our ice cream example, it depends on what your goals are.
There can be real detrimental effects from hearing loss
Your daily life can be significantly effected by hearing loss. Social solitude that often comes along with hearing loss can cause you to avoid having conversations because you’re unable to hear what people are saying.
This can make you feel removed from your friends and family. You even steer clear of the cashier at the supermarket. It’s not a happy way to live. And as you age, your cognitive faculties can deteriorate faster.
So it’s not 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 serious health issues.
Over-the-counter hearing aids – how they function
It’s not difficult to recognize why individuals would want to go towards hearing aids that can be purchased easily, given the health consequences 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 need to schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. You grab a set of these devices, pay for them, and go home. Once they’re in your ears, they work to amplify the sound around you.
Your life can be profoundly and positively impacted by this.
Over-the-counter hearing aids can do the trick in some scenarios
In 2022 the Food and Drug Administration changed some rules about the sale of hearing aids that allowed stores including pharmacies to sell them. 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. And in some cases, that process can keep people away. For people who aren’t quite ready to make that leap, over-the-counter hearing aids can be a good substitute. 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 knowing when OTC hearing aids are a good fit (and when they aren’t).
What’s the essential difference between over-the-counter and prescription hearing aids?
As a general rule, prescription hearing aids are more powerful and have a lot more customizable functions than OTC hearing aids. They will also not fit quite as well, and they won’t be customized to your needs.
So is there anything useful or beneficial about OTC hearing aids? Well, yes, in some circumstances. OTC hearing aids might be the best option if:
- Your hearing specialist is suggesting an OTC. (For optimum outcomes, ask your hearing specialist to address settings and style types that may work best for you.)
- You’re never going 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.
- You keep a set on hand just in case your prescription hearing aids need to go in for maintenance.
- Your hearing loss is in the early stages and is really simple. For mild instances of hearing loss, these devices will work just fine.
It’s fairly typical for OTC presets to be pre-programmed when you get them. Some devices are good for low-frequency hearing loss, others might be good for high-frequency hearing loss. (So before you invest in a hearing aid, you should certainly get a better concept of your level and type of hearing loss.).
When OTC hearing aids are not a good solution
So, what are the drawbacks to over-the-counter hearing aids? Are there adverse side effects of over-the-counter hearing aids?
Well, let’s just say that OTC hearing aids aren’t a good fit for everyone in every situation. In general, OTC hearing aids might not be the right solution for you if:
- You have more severe hearing loss. While OTC hearing aids can be helpful for less significant hearing loss, profound hearing loss will require something more powerful and more sophisticated.
- OTC hearing aids are not custom fit the way you may need them to be. A custom fit is sometimes necessary for some people and OTC hearing aids don’t allow for this.
- A cheaper hearing aid that does not adequately 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 much more than OTC hearing aids.
- When you’re in challenging and noisy settings, you need to be able to hear. The majority of prescription hearing aids can be personalized depending on what you need to hear and where you need to hear it.
- You don’t know precisely which hearing aid to buy: The wrong hearing aids can actually make your hearing worse for somebody with hearing loss. (It’s comparable to using really loud earbuds.)
Are there any risks 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 specific hearing loss.
Either way, you should consult a hearing specialist
OTC hearing aids are suitable for some people and prescription hearing aids are the best choice for others. But either way, scheduling an appointment can help your hearing aids work better.
That’s because understanding more about your hearing loss will help you find a better treatment. Whether your hearing loss requires prescription hearing aids or OTC hearing aids, we can help you get the best treatment for your situation.
We can also help you get the most out of your new technology.
Schedule an appointment with us so we can help you determine what hearing aid type is right for you.