The real differences between audiology and over-the-counter hearing tech.
Back in July, President Biden signed an executive order allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter. This measure is aimed at lowering the cost of hearing care, and at a glance, seems like a great way to ensure everyone who needs hearing care is covered. But recently, California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a consumer alert, saying: “While hearing aids sold online or over-the-counter may appear to be more cost-effective than traditional hearing aids, they may not properly address your particular hearing loss needs or may be outright scams. As you explore your options, know your rights, beware of false claims, and exercise caution if you choose to purchase from an unlicensed seller.”
Bonta is absolutely correct. Treating hearing loss is about more than simply fitting the patient with hearing aids. An audiologist will ensure that the underlying cause of the hearing loss is correctly diagnosed, and that any secondary conditions, like tinnitus and equilibrium imbalance, are also addressed. To ensure you receive the safest and most effective treatments possible, audiologists adhere to these six promises:
Both audiologists and hearing aid specialists are licensed to sell hearing aids, but audiologists possess master’s or doctorate degrees that concentrate on 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 fit 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 “once and done” solution; it takes time for the body and mind to adjust, and there may be a period of discomfort that requires professional support.
3. Patient-Provider Relationship
Hearing loss is a complex condition. It can have many different causes, including simple age-related decline, disorders such as 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 as well. Providing support for these conditions is part of our commitment to our patients’ total hearing health.
Specialist treatment offers a better fit and allows you to receive professional support from an audiologist. There is also evidence that programming your own hearing technology or choosing a one-size-fits-all solution can actually be harmful. Hearing aids are medical devices. 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 may 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, including 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 in 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 an AudigyCertified™ practice to provide you with an expert evaluation. It’s the right choice for you to be sure that you’re pursuing the very best solution for your hearing loss.