First, determine if you have one of these signs of a potential medical problem:
- A sudden hearing loss
- Hearing loss in only one ear or a large difference between ears
- Ear drainage
- Fullness in the ears
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Ear pain
If you experience one of these issues, you should first consult with a hearing care professional or a medical doctor to make sure that you don’t have a medically treatable condition.
You’re also not a good candidate for an OTC hearing aid if you have deformities in your ear. The hearing aid may not fit well in your ear canal, or the tip could get stuck.
People with very narrow or curved ear canals may find it difficult to have OTC devices fit well.
You also should have a doctor look into your ears to make sure that you don’t have wax blockage causing your hearing loss.
OTC hearing aids should only be purchased for adults over 18; children require testing and fitting by audiologists trained to maximize their access to sounds for speech and language development.
If you’ve determined that you don’t have any of these issues, the best way to buy an OTC hearing aid online is to search for consumer reviews of several manufacturers.
When reading consumer reviews, be sure to spot signs of fake reviews. Fake reviews tend to use more first-person pronouns. They may contain few supporting details. Balanced reviews that offer information about both the pros and cons of a product are likely trustworthy.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a few manufacturers, examine their websites for details of their customer service policies. You need to know how long you have to return the hearing aids for a refund if you are not satisfied with the devices.
You also need to know whether you can get support over the telephone or by email if you need help with your devices. The best companies utilize licensed hearing instrument specialists or audiologists to give you advice over the phone.
You also need to check, before sending your credit card information to anyone, that the company and website are legitimate. Look for a phone number and address on the site. Check the name of the business with the Better Business Bureau.
Once you’ve chosen your manufacturer and selected a device, it’s time to order your hearing aids and give them a try. Your hearing aids should arrive with a detailed user manual. Read it thoroughly to understand how it functions.
Typically, your right hearing aid will be marked with some sort of red dot or writing. Think “red is right”. Left hearing aids are color-coded in blue.
Some people need to gradually ease into wearing hearing aids. That’s normal. You most likely lost your hearing gradually, so it will take time for your brain to re-learn how to hear. Over time, increase the time that you wear your hearing aids in order to get the most benefit from them.
When talking on the telephone with BTE models, remember that the microphone of the hearing aid is located on top of your ear. You’ll want to hold the phone towards the top of your ear so that your hearing aids can amplify the sound.
If you experience any problems with your hearing aids, be sure to call the manufacturer’s support line for assistance. Do this well before the end of the return period so that you can return the aids if you are still not satisfied.
Be sure to consult with a hearing care professional if you have any changes in your hearing, pain, dizziness, or tinnitus after beginning to use OTC hearing aids.