If you already know that you have hearing loss, then you are well aware of the toll it can take on your ability to communicate with others and enjoy the sounding world. However, you might wonder what is the right step to take toward getting assistance. With the wide range of options available, it can seem quite daunting to know how to begin.

You might have heard about sound amplifiers and over-the-counter hearing aids. Some general aids of this type are even available at big-box retailers, and the cheaper price might be appealing. Let’s take a look at how some of these devices work to determine if they can meet your needs. As you might suspect, the benefits of prescription hearing aids far outweigh the difference in price that might initially seem like a better value.

Sound Amplifiers

One of the most basic types of hearing assistance comes in the form of a sound amplifier. These devices look almost like a cassette Walkman from days gone by. The solid rectangular unit includes a microphone and amplifier, and a pair of headphones are attached to this unit with a cable. This device is sometimes used for hunting and other applications that require a basic form of amplification, but they are not suited to hearing loss. When a person develops the most common types of hearing loss, this lack of ability is not evenly distributed across the frequency spectrum.

Certain sounds are more difficult to hear than others, and so raising the entire sound profile will make some sounds seem unnatural, even dangerously, loud. By raising the sound of frequencies that can already be heard, these devices can actually cause additional damage in the range of sound that can already be heard while producing a confusing effect in the range of sound that needs assistance.

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids

If you look at a big box retailer or an online wholesaler, you might see some surprisingly cheap hearing aids that are available. These devices look quite a lot like prescription hearing aids, but they work quite differently. Though they can use replaceable batteries or rechargeable batteries, just like prescription hearing aids, they are not customized to the needs of an individual. They do a somewhat better job than sound amplifiers because they raise the volume of sounds that are commonly difficult to hear, including human voices. However, they are not tailored to the individual needs of a listener, and these hearing profiles can be quite varied.
The differences between one individual and another are significant enough that these over-the-counter hearing aids can harm hearing in quite the same way that sound amplifiers do. If you do not need assistance in a particular range of sound, these general aids might be raising that volume to a place where it actually causes damage.

Prescription Hearing Aids

When you work with our team at Austin Hearing Services, you can rest assured that you will have the best in expertise and care. At our practice, you will begin with a complete diagnosis of your hearing ability. The most common exam is called “pure tone audiometry,” and this test produces a range of sounds in different pitches and volumes. When you gesture to signify which sounds you can hear, we will be able to determine the threshold of volume at which you can barely hear a sound. The resulting graph, called an audiogram, shows this volume threshold in different ranges of sound. These sound ranges are used to find the right hearing aids for your needs.

Not all hearing aids are suited to all types of hearing loss, which is where we come in! Our team at Austin Hearing Services is experienced with state-of-the-art hearing technology, and we can pair you with devices suited to your specific hearing needs.

In addition to the results in the audiogram, you can work in consultation with your hearing health professional to determine if you have particular difficulty hearing when there is background noise, when multiple voices are speaking at once, or when you are in a cacophonous or echoing space. These details are essential to pairing you with hearing aids that offer the right profile of features and functions to meet your needs.

As you can see, the temptation of saving some money on sound amplifiers or over-the-counter hearing aids is not a good value at all! Contact us at Austin Hearing Services today to start your hearing journey on the right foot.