Over the Counter Amplifiers?

by Dr. Rachel Lynch on April 27, 2017

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There has been recent news that personal sound amplifiers are becoming over the counter for people.  While this may seem like a wonderful idea for people to have access to hearing devices, this is not the appropriate way for medical devices to be offered to potential patients.

Hearing loss and the rehabilitation of a hearing loss is a complicated process.  Unlike contact lens or glasses, hearing loss is not correctable.  Aids gives sound to the brain to stimulate sounds that the brain cannot hear anymore.  But hearing aids do not correct hearing or restore it to normal hearing levels.  Hearing aids have smart computers inside of them that engineers and medical researchers have designed to give volume in areas where a person has a hearing deficit.  Mathematical calculations are computed to make sounds louder or softer in different frequency ranges.  In an easier explanation hearing aids are designed to work like our ears.

Sound amplifiers that are made for over the counter don’t do any of these technological advances.  In fact, all they do is just raise the volume of sound around you.  Background noise and speech will all be the same volume.  Simple amplifiers might help someone hear better if they have a mild hearing loss.  But the majority of people that need hearing aids don’t just have a mild or slight hearing loss.  So someone that could be wearing these over the counter products could have a severe hearing loss and not benefitting at all with the amplifier.  All of this process is giving people a false sense of what an actual hearing aid could do for them or cause frustration.  Then by the time they are ready to go see a physician or audiologist about hearing aids they’ve already made up their mind of what a hearing aid would do for them, not really knowing or understanding the differences between these products.

Remember, how can a person diagnose their own hearing loss?  Hearing test taken online or in a store do not give you correct results.  They are usually not performed in sound proof booths.  Audiologists are trained to rehabilitate your hearing needs and guide you in making sound decisions about your hearing health.  A person can start to notice they have a hearing loss, but the process must be evaluated by a physician and audiologist to truly treat and educate the patient.

Do yourself a favor and seek medical treatment for medical professionals.  Don’t go the cheap route just because you feel like you can save some bucks to “treat” your hearing.  Usually going the cheap direction backfires anyway.  Happy Hearing!

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