What does Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Device Mean?
Over-the-Counter hearing aid devices are different from traditional or prescription hearing aids. These hearing devices do not require a hearing test or licensed hearing professional to fit. Over-the-Counter hearing aid devices come with general settings with the ability to make small, limited adjustments, typically lumping low and high frequencies. There is also a mandatory volume control. These hearing devices are only designed to assist someone with mild to moderate self-perceived/self-diagnosed hearing loss.
An Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Device
- Price Tag: Traditional hearing aids are perceived as expensive because the cost includes the hearing professional’s service and expertise.
- One Size Fits Most: Over-the-Counter hearing aid devices are designed to open the box and use the product immediately. This is possible with a generic fit and the 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 aid devices for patient safety. These devices are beneficial for patients with mild to moderate self-perceived/self-diagnosed hearing loss. This means that a patient does not need a hearing test to purchase them. Patients can still purchase an Over-the-Counter device after going to a certified hearing professional for a hearing exam for an additional cost.
An Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Device
- Unknown Hearing Loss or Issues: Hearing loss comes in various stages and poses different challenges such as sensorineural, conductive, and mixed hearing loss. Each hearing loss impacts different frequencies and may require different 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 aid devices are like generic reading glasses. They are a one size fits most approach with limited customization for comfort. These devices may help if you need a mild correction but they will not be specifically designed for your needs. Your ears are unique, and what you might find comfortable may not be comfortable for the next patient.
- Lack of Service: Over-the-Counter hearing aid devices come with little 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. This may lead to questions, such as, “Is this device truly helping me?”, “How well does this adjustment fit my needs?”, and “Is there a bigger issue or wax build-up?”. These questions, plus more, stay unanswered.
How Are They Different from Traditional Prescription Hearing Aids?
Traditional prescription hearing aids are specifically customized for your needs and comfort. A licensed hearing professional takes you through a series of physical exams and audio tests to understand your hearing needs. The hearing professional will help you determine which hearing aids are right for you, your lifestyle and your budget. They can adjust the device’s frequencies to match your hearing loss needs. The hearing aid can be physically molded to your ear for added comfort resulting in the most natural-sounding hearing solution possible.
What Services are Included with Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Devices?
Typically, Over-the-Counter hearing aid devices are self-fit with no assistance or support from a licensed hearing professional. That is why we offer annual exams and troubleshooting appointments to all hearing aid wearers. Regardless of what manufacturer or where you purchased your hearing aids, we want to help ensure you are hearing to the best of your ability.
What Levels of Hearing Loss are Treatable with Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Devices?
The FDA limits Over-the-Counter hearing aids to mild-to-moderate self-perceived/self-diagnosed hearing loss only. This is to protect patients from potential harm of over amplification which can result in permanent damage and significant hearing loss. Prescription hearing aids that are fit by a licensed hearing professional can work for all levels of hearing loss from mild to profound.
How will I know what my hearing loss is?
There are several online hearing tests available, and you can try ours here! Keep in mind, online hearing tests are merely screenings and are not diagnostic medical tests. The only way to determine hearing loss or if you need hearing aids is to schedule a hearing exam with a licensed hearing professional. Both an audiogram and a physical examination are required to properly determine hearing loss.
Clinically, the hearing loss falls into different degrees. Mild, moderate, severe, and profound are some of the most common degrees with variations. Your hearing loss degree depends on your ability to hear different pitches (frequencies) at different volumes (decibels dB). The hearing threshold of mild loss is 26-40 dB; moderate is 41-55 dB; severe is 71-90 dB; and profound is over 91 dB.
No matter what type of hearing aids you choose to try, our hearing aid specialist can help ensure all your hearing healthcare needs are addressed over time as your hearing demands change.
Call us at (918) 492-6087.