Are OTC Hearing Aids A Good Thing Or A Bad Thing for Hearing Care?

by | Jun 28, 2021 | Hearing aids, Patient Resources, Technology

Although you might be able to clearly diagnose appendicitis using online diagnostic resources, would you attempt to remove your own appendix?

Education regarding your general health and your hearing health is a positive investment of your energies and resources, but how you use the information you acquire can be good or bad.

Because the Acadian Hearing team and I are passionate about the prevention and treatment of hearing loss in Lake Charles and the surrounding communities, we applaud your desire to educate yourself on hearing loss, hearing care, and hearing aids. However, self-treatment using over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids might not be in your best interest.

What Are OTC Hearing Aids?

Over-the-counter hearing aids are any hearing instrument or a hearing aid that a patient purchases for themselves without receiving input from a doctor of audiology or hearing healthcare professional.

Most individuals purchase OTC hearing aids, which are shipped to them directly from a third party after taking an online hearing test.

Do OTC Hearing Aids Provide Any Benefits?

Because so many individuals with hearing challenges stubbornly deny their condition and reject any help, a willingness to take action to improve their hearing, even with an OTC hearing aid, is a good thing.

Just like the glasses you pick up in a supermarket or drug store, over-the-counter hearing aids are sometimes the first step on the journey to better hearing.

In essence, OTC hearing aids are a gateway for individuals who are ready to admit that they might have a hearing problem and are ready to address it but aren’t quite willing to seek the help of a hearing care professional for a variety of reasons.

However, you must be aware that OTC hearing aids are not the endpoint on your journey to better hearing, which might require professional intervention for a more viable solution.

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What Are The Drawbacks Of OTC Hearing Aids?

In another post, “What Are OTC Hearing Aids?” I addressed three ways in which they differ from professionally prescribed hearing aids, including questionable testing accuracy, gain, and output capacity limitations, and the absence of professional programming and ongoing follow-up care.

These three differences help define the one major drawback of OTC hearing aids – the lack of expert input into your hearing care by a doctor of audiology.

Hearing Assessment Accuracy

A comprehensive hearing assessment measures the type and severity of your hearing loss rather than just identifying a hearing challenge.

Hearing loss can be due to a blockage of the hearing canal (conductive hearing loss), which can be related to inflammation, a growth or tumor, a bug, or wax buildup, all of which can be addressed without hearing aids.

An online hearing test not only eliminates the possibility of detecting medically treatable hearing loss but it also does not provide an accurate measurement for programming the right hearing instrument to meet your unique hearing needs.

I am even aware of cases where individuals have purchased OTC hearing aids because of an online hearing test that showed a hearing loss, and they really did not need them.

Programming And Follow-up Care

Hearing care professionals select and program hearing instruments designed to address the specific hearing loss of each unique case. As a result, the hearing aids we have access to can address hearing challenges from mild to severe in nature with much greater accuracy.

Hearing instrument specialists program hearing aids to increase or decrease the amount of amplification (gain) needed to help you hear frequencies where your hearing is weak while not overloading frequencies where you have no hearing loss.

We continue to monitor these settings and make adjustments to fine-tune your hearing, so you get the most benefit from your hearing aids.

Evidence that OTC hearing aids do not provide the solution sought by those who purchase them can be seen because approximately 70% of them are returned to the manufacturer, and the boxes of 50% of them are never opened.

Follow-up care by an audiologist also includes the professional support and encouragement to use and receive the advantages hearing aids provide.

Acadian Hearing Provides Professional Hearing Care Solutions

Your desire to take positive steps toward better hearing is one of the good things that come out of OTC hearing aids. Still, before you purchase an OTC hearing product, you should consider a professional hearing assessment to identify your needs accurately.

The Acadian Hearing team and I provide you with the advantages of greater testing accuracy, higher quality instruments, and programming accuracy, and the ongoing support you need to get the most out of hearing aids.

Contact us at the Lake Charles location nearest you for more information on how we can help or schedule a hearing assessment today.

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Dr. Bridget B. Garrido, Au.D.

Dr. Garrido joined the Acadian Hearing & Speech Services team in 1994. She received her doctorate of audiology from Salus University in Elkins Park, PA, a master’s degree in communication disorders from LSU Medical Center in New Orleans, and an undergraduate degree from LSU Baton Rouge. Dr. Garrido is certified nationally from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and holds Louisiana state licensure.