Myth: Buying OTC Hearing Aids & Skipping My Hearing Evaluation is Okay
Reality: Hearing loss is a medical issue that requires care from a licensed professional that qualifies them to diagnose, manage and treat hearing and balance problems. In addition, hearing loss is not just a condition of aging. Hearing loss can be a result of, or an indication for, many health conditions.
Myth: OTC Hearing Aids are for Everyone
Reality: Without an evaluation by a trained professional, there’s no way to know a patient’s degree of hearing loss. OTC hearing aids are designed only for people with milder losses and are not recommended for children or people with severe cases.
Myth: OTC Hearing Aids Work Great
Reality: OTC hearing aids ship with factory presets. Every case of hearing loss is unique, so the chance of finding a pair that works for your specific needs is slim, and retailers will likely not provide adjustments.
Myth: I Can’t Afford Traditional Hearing Aids
Reality: Medical-grade hearing aids vary in price range based upon your specific needs. Most practices have options for every budget, including flexible financing and / or leasing plans.
In fact, entry level hearing aids are similar in price to the current group of OTC products being offered. The difference is that an entry-level hearing aid is a Grade II medical device that can be reprogrammed as your hearing changes.
The cost of hearing aids isn’t just for the devices – it also includes all follow-up visits, adjustments and counseling. Unfortunately, insurance companies rarely reimburse these services for adults. However, your specialist can refer you to a clinician or therapist specializing in hearing rehabilitation if you need extended counseling or rehabilitation.
Problems With Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids
Before over-the-counter hearing aids became available, patients needed a formal hearing test and assessment. This is critical because not all hearing loss is the same; hearing specialist – both otolaryngologist and audiologists – are trained to decipher the type of hearing loss that a patient is experiencing. From that, they make recommendations on hearing treatment. If a patient needs a hearing aid, a health care professional will fit them with one.
But purchasing an over-the-counter hearing aid requires none of those things – not an ear exam, not a hearing test and not a fitting session. There are many reasons why this shortcut approach may not be ideal for someone experiencing hearing loss.
First, patients may have a chronic infection or condition that requires medical or surgical management, rather than a hearing aid. Second, some patients with hearing loss in one ear or a large difference in hearing between the two ears may have a benign growth on the hearing and balance nerve. This often requires surgery or radiation treatment. Again, a hearing aid would not help with this condition.
Additionally, for those who would benefit from an over-the-counter product, not every hearing aid fits every ear – one size most certainly does not fit all. And one more caveat: Over-the-counter hearing aids are not recommended for people under 18.
Most Common Reasons For Not Getting Hearing Aids:
“My hearing’s not that bad.”
Hearing aid users wait on average, 10 years before getting help for hearing loss. But during that time, communication with loved ones becomes more difficult, and isolation and health risks increase. Studies have shown just how important it is to be proactive in addressing any hearing declines over time.
“Wearing hearing aids means I’m old, and I’m not ready for that.”
It’s normal to feel worried that hearing loss means you’re aging – and to want to hide it. Plenty of people with hearing impairment sit silently rather than joining the conversations and activities, because they fear that hearing problems will make them seem helpless or less competent. The truth: Connecting with others can help your brain stay younger and keep you involved with life.
I don’t like the way hearing aids look.”
Forget the old days of big, whistling earpieces. Today’s hearing aids and cochlear implants are smaller (and less conspicuous) than ever before. Even celebrities (like former president Bill Clinton and football Hall of Famer Mike Singletary) are wearing them proudly.
“I heard that hearing aids are difficult to use.”
There is a breaking-in period as you – and your central auditory system and brain – adjust to life with hearing aids. That’s why most hearing centers include a trial period, so that you can be sure the type you’ve chosen – whether it’s miniature behind-the-ear model or one that fits into your ear – is right for you.
“I can’t afford them.”
Hearing aids have a wide range when it comes to cost, so be sure to discuss your budget when you go for the consultation. You might be able to trade off some features for less expensive aids. Some insurance will cover or assist with the cost of hearing aids, including Medicare, and many providers offer payment plans or financing to defray the one-time cost of hearing aids. In addition to these financing possibilities, the overall value of hearing aids is something to consider. The benefit of the aids might well outweigh the cost for many people, so why not explore options before writing them off?
“I’m too young.”
One of the most common barriers to getting hearing aids is that they make a person feel as if they are “old.” This common misconception is based on a time when fewer people had hearing aids, in general.
Furthermore, youth hearing loss is on the rise, partially attributed to the extended use of headphones and earbuds, making it more common to find younger people with hearing aids, as well. Although they might make a person face reality of age-related hearing loss, getting assistance right away is crucial for other factors, such as cognitive functioning and mental health.
Those who get treatment for hearing loss have a lower risk of memory issues and even dementia, meaning that getting hearing aids might actually make you feel younger longer.
Still Unsure About Your Options?
If you still have questions or unsure, come in to one of Miracle-Ear’s 1,500 locations nationwide and have a conversation with one of our trained licensed experts. They can help guide you to the right solution for your needs. They will help you understand the differences and help you make the best decision for you.
Schedule a Free Hearing Assessment at a Miracle-Ear location nearest you, and please feel free to call us with any questions about hearing loss and treatment. We’re here to help!