With the internet at our fingertips, it’s easy to do a lot of research ourselves.

Since we have all been doing our part and staying home as much as we can, I think a lot of people have got pretty good at using the internet for educational purposes.

Recently, I am getting a lot more questions about OTC devices. What are they? Do they work? How do I get one? These are all valid questions and that is what this article is all about.

It’s a great time for this seeing as May is Better Hearing Month. As audiologists, we utilize this month to raise awareness to the public about overall hearing health and how to improve it.

This is a perfect opportunity to discuss OTC devices and how they fit into the world of audiology. 

Getting an OTC Device

An over-the-counter (OTC) device is very attractive to consumers and a major reason why these are gaining popularity is because of how easy they are to buy.

Available at many big box pharmacies or ordered online and delivered right to your door, these big corporations have made it very easy to get your hands on one.

It can also provide a certain level of anonymity if the patient is feeling uneasy about his or her hearing loss.

This system gives the patient an avenue in which to experiment without their family or friends knowing.

OTC Drawbacks

Although OTCs have the potential to help a small number of people, its cons far outweigh its pros.

Because they are purchased over the counter, it is up to the patient to determine which one is best for them.

Without a professional examination by an audiologist, the patient will have no way of knowing what they need to alleviate their problem.

In some cases, your hearing loss may be due to wax buildup and once removed, your hearing could improve.

If you diagnose that incorrectly and get an OTC, then you could end up doing more harm than good.

An OTC is a very simple piece of technology. It’s designed to simply amplify sound and that’s it.

It does not distinguish between background noise and human voices and it surely cannot help with tinnitus.

By increasing the volume of all sounds through your ears, you may end up confusing the signals to your brain and when you remove the OTC, your brain will not be able to process those signals in the same way.

Fitting and calibrating a hearing device is a tricky task. There are lots of variables to deal with – as audiologists, we have extensive training to be able to do this.

If you buy an OTC, you are responsible for fitting it yourself and optimizing it.

Are Hearing Aids Better?

The short answer is emphatically, yes. The technology of hearing aids has been growing just as fast as any other electronic.

We are amazed at how far they have come and how much they can improve your hearing and lifestyle.

With a proper hearing assessment, we can fit you with a perfect hearing aid that will directly address your specific problem.

As time passes and your hearing changes, we can alter the settings of your hearing aid to reflect that change.

By having a professional support system on your side, all your questions and concerns will be addressed. Something OTCs do not do.

If you or a loved one is thinking about buying an OTC, we encourage you to come talk to us first and have a comprehensive hearing assessment done.

From there, we can pinpoint your issue and diagnose correctly.

Schedule a free consultation with one of our audiologists to get started.

Life is worth hearing.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Julie Hubik, Au.D., CCC-A - Doctor of Audiology & CEO of Cornerstone Audiology

Dr. Hubik is the owner and founder of one of West Texas' most trusted and professional hearing providers, Cornerstone Audiology. She received her bachelor of science degree in communication disorders as well as her doctorate of audiology from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). In her youth, Dr. Hubik became interested in helping people with a hearing loss to communicate more effectively and therefore pursued a degree in this field. Dr. Hubik was born and raised in Anton, Texas, and appreciates working with the people of West Texas. She and her team are proud to serve the hearing needs of their community.