Why Choosing Professional Hearing Care is Vital to Your Health
Hearing loss is not a one-size-fits-all condition.
Hearing loss is common and treatable. And, it is as unique as you. With the different types of hearing loss and levels of complexity, a hearing professional can guide you through selecting the right solution for your specific hearing and lifestyle needs.
Hearing healthcare professionals are trained to identify hearing loss and provide customized treatment that addresses your specific hearing needs and lifestyle. A hearing healthcare professional can explain the differences between prescription hearing aids and hearing aids available over the counter and guide you on the right decision for you.
What are Prescription hearing aids?
Prescription hearing aids are a category of hearing aids available through a hearing professional to treat all degrees of hearing loss. These hearing aids are fitted and programmed by a hearing professional for an individual’s unique hearing loss and lifestyle needs. Follow up care including service and repairs are also provided by a hearing professional.
What does Over-the-Counter (OTC) mean?
OTC hearing aids are a new category of hearing aids that are available over the counter and do not require a hearing test or licensed hearing professional to fit. They’re made for adults 18 years of age and older with perceived mild to moderate hearing loss. These hearing aids are “one-size-fits most” with no hearing evaluation or follow up care provided.
The FDA has approved Over-the-Counter (OTC) Hearing Aids The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled on August 16, 2022, legalization of ‘Over-the-Counter’ or OTC hearing aids that has taken effect as of October 17, 2022. These products will be available online and in stores to customers without the need of a licensed hearing professional to test or fit the products.
Benefits of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
Price Tag:Traditional hearing aids are seen as expensive because the cost includes the devices along with the service and expertise of the hearing professional.
One Size Fits Most: Over-the-counter hearing aids are designed for the user to be able to open the box and use the product immediately. This is possible with a generic fit and removal of customizations. Most over-the-counter devices come with simple buttons and/or a smartphone app connection for customizations and volume control.
Combining Safety and Help: The FDA passed a law limiting the power and output of over-the-counter hearing aids for patient safety. These devices are beneficial for patients with mild to moderate self-perceived hearing loss. This means that a patient does not need a hearing test to purchase. Patients still can purchase an over-the-counter device after going to a certified hearing professional for a hearing exam.
Limitations of Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
Unknown Hearing Loss or Issues: Much like eyesight, hearing loss comes in a variety of types and pose different challenges. Hearing loss comes in a variety of types including sensorineural, conductive, and mixed hearing loss; each type of hearing loss impacts different frequencies and may require differing treatment methods. The lack of a physical ear examination may lead to other unnoticed potential issues that can show similar hearing loss symptoms such as ear drum damage or simple wax buildup.
One Size Fit Most: Over-the-counter hearing aids are like generic reading glasses. They are one size fits most with limited customization for comfort. These devices may help if you need a mild correction but will not be specifically designed for your exact needs. Your ears are unique and what you might find comfortable may not be comfortable to the next patient.
Lack of Service: Over-the-counter hearing aids come with little to no professional service or assistance. For the most part, it is a do-it-yourself solution. The lack of regular cleanings, verification, and monitoring of your specific hearing loss leaves room for doubt. Is this device truly helping me? How well does this adjustment fit my needs? Is there a bigger issue or wax build up? These questions plus more stay unanswered.
How will I know what my hearing loss is?
There are several online hearing tests available, and you can try the one we offer! However, they are not diagnostic medical tests. The only way to determine hearing loss or if you may need hearing aid solutions, is to schedule a hearing exam with a licensed hearing professional. Both an audiogram and a physical examination are required to determine hearing loss.
Clinically, hearing loss falls into different degrees. Mild, moderate, severe, and profound are some of the most common degrees with variations in between. Your hearing loss degree depends on your ability to hear different pitches (frequencies) at different volumes (decibels dB). Hearing threshold of mild loss is 26-40 dB, moderate is 41-55 dB, severe is 71-90 dB and profound is over 91dB.
No matter what type of hearing aids you choose to try, our hearing aid specialist(s) can help ensure all your hearing healthcare needs are addressed over time as your hearing demands change. The first step would be to call or schedule an appointment for a complimentary hearing screening.
Hearing plays a major role in our emotional well-being and overall quality of life — with a growing body of research linking hearing loss to dementia and cognitive decline, it is important that you receive the treatment that is right for you. When we hear our best, it’s easy to stay engaged, alert and active.