The real differences between audiology and over-the-counter solutions
Now that more people are becoming aware of how prevalent hearing loss is, technological solutions are multiplying.
Last July, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter. This measure was aimed at lowering the cost of hearing care and, at a glance, it appears to be a good strategy to ensure everyone is covered. But can OTC products ever compete with the knowledge and expertise of a specialist? Additionally, are home solutions even safe? Because you deserve the best hearing care available, here are six reasons to make an appointment with an audiologist instead:
Both audiologists and hearing aid specialists are licensed to sell hearing aids, but audiologists possess master’s or doctorate degrees in hearing health. Because individuals develop hearing loss in a variety of ways and have unique communication needs, accurately diagnosing hearing loss and selecting the right hearing aids will ensure successful treatment.
To maximize comfort and functionality, hearing aids must be custom fitted to each individual and programmed to support their listening lifestyle. Only a trained audiologist or hearing aid specialist can do this. Additionally, audiologists can monitor your progress over time and make adjustments when necessary. Wearing hearing technology is not a one-and-done solution; it takes time for the body and mind to adjust, and there might be a period of discomfort that requires professional support.
3. Patient-Provider Relationship
Hearing loss is a complex condition. It has many different causes, including simple age-related decline, disorders like Ménière’s disease, and exposure to ototoxic chemicals. There are also many comorbidities associated with hearing loss. An audiologist can diagnose and treat many of these, forming a long-lasting relationship with you that goes beyond simply fitting you with hearing aids.
4. Tinnitus and Balance Support
Hearing loss often occurs alongside tinnitus, which is a persistent ringing, buzzing, or clicking sound in the ear. While the condition is still being researched and is not yet fully understood, what we know about tinnitus so far falls under the expertise of audiologists. And because the inner ear governs the body’s equilibrium, balance issues are often diagnosed and treated by audiologists. Providing support for these conditions is part of our commitment to our patients’ total hearing health.
Aside from the benefits of achieving a better fit and receiving professional support from an audiologist, there is evidence that programming your own hearing technology or choosing a one-size-fits-all solution can actually be harmful. An audiologist will perform a series of tests to assess your hearing loss and ensure your hearing aids meet your needs without being too loud. Hearing technology that amplifies sound too much can further damage your hearing, and an ill-fitting hearing aid can create uncomfortable wax buildup, which might lead to ear infections.
While purchasing an OTC hearing aid may provide considerable savings on upfront costs, seeking treatment through a licensed audiologist is a better investment. From warranty protection to professional cleanings and advice on upgrades, nothing compares to our guarantee of quality. We also know hearing aids can be expensive, so we always do our best to provide affordable solutions, which may include coupons, specials, and financing options. Once you’ve purchased your hearing aids, your treatment plan is put into effect — we will be with you every step of the way on your journey to better hearing and better health.
Whether you are a longtime user of hearing aids or considering them for the first time, there is no better decision you can make for your hearing health than choosing a local audiology practice to perform a hearing evaluation. It’s the right choice for you to be sure that you’re pursuing the very best solution for your hearing loss.