Can You Hear Me Now?

Over the counter hearing aids may help with your hearing loss.

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Recently the federal government passed a bill that allows hearing aids to be sold over the counter, without the prescription of a doctor or audiologist.

How can you find out if the over-the-counter hearing aids will help with your hearing loss?

A common analogy about this change in regulations for hearing aids compares them to reading glasses. You can go into any drugstore and pick up a pair of reading glasses that will help you out, if read- ing is the only thing you need help with. The glasses won’t be made with your specific prescription, and they fall into the category of very general disability aid. At some point, you may actually need to pay for an eye exam and a pair of bifocals.

Similarly, the OTC hearing aids and “hearing-assistive devices” that you can pick up at the drugstore are useful if your inconvenience is limited to needing to turn up the television volume when you’re at home, or not being able to understand what your family members are saying to you and having to constantly ask them to repeat themselves.

Time for a visit with an audiologist A few tell-tale signs that you actually need to visit an audiologist: it sounds like everyone mumbles, especially if you can’t see their mouths; your television is at a volume that hurts your spouse’s ears; your friends find that you’re interrupting them in conversation because you don’t realize they’re already talking.

If you have significant hearing loss, you’ll still want to visit an audiologist to get their expert opinion on how to manage your hearing. Audiologists are now required to have Ph.Ds, so they truly are the most expert among us. They can take the results of your hearing test – your specific, personal, hearing loss profile – and program it into a hearing aid that will work more effectively for you. If you have any concerns about your hearing, get a hearing test.

Then you’ll know for sure if your course of action is the one recommended for your situation. Some big box retail stores have staff audiologists or hearing aid techs who can give you a hearing test while you’re in the store. Most also carry a few models of hearing aids at a reduced cost.

Seek hearing loss evaluation Also: please safeguard your hearing and treat your hearing loss when it occurs. Untreated hearing loss can contribute to many other health and lifestyle problems including depression, isolation, decreased socialization. Lack of cognitive activity due to hear- ing loss can contribute to other physical, neurological

and psychological issues like increased rates of heart disease and dementia. Consumer-grade hearing aids help a lot of folks participate more in their daily lives and be more integrated into their families and other social circles. The perception of hearing aids may change now that some are available at a lesser cost, over the counter.

Those with incremental hearing loss caused by aging may still be resistant to admitting they need help. The price points of over-the-counter hearing aids may drive some from more advanced devices and spark greater changes in the field of audiology. Find out more about your hearing loss and how it can be treated by scheduling a hearing test today.