"Only an audiologist can monitor the health of your ears and maintain the proper operation of the hearing aids.”

Dr. Sally’s Opinion On OTC Hearing Aids

by | Feb 12, 2022 | Hearing Aids, Industry News, Patient Resources, Technology

One of our goals at Hear in Texas is to tailor each person’s hearing care perfectly to their exact hearing needs so their hearing is always optimized. One of the ways we do this is by providing the best information possible.

We’ve been asked a lot lately about hearing aids that can be bought online or over the counter (OTC) – hearing devices that you can order or purchase on your own without the opinion or expertise of a hearing professional.

While we agree that online and OTC hearing aids are receiving a lot of attention for their low price and perceived convenience, we have to point out that having an audiologist in your journey to better hearing is crucial.

Pros And Cons Of OTCs And Online Hearing Devices

Cost – The cost of OTC or online hearing devices is cheaper than that of prescription hearing aids, yes, and this is because they come pre-set and are not customized for your hearing. The technology in them is not what you get when you purchase from a hearing professional.

Self-treatment – There is no training or input from a hearing professional to help you with them. There is no one to help you to adjust them to your specific hearing loss and needs.

Serious medical issues ignored – They probably don’t address most of the hearing loss appropriately. You could have something more serious than just a hearing loss, but you do not know because you did not get an ear exam and hearing evaluation.

Additional costs not mentioned – People are drawn to the flat fee, which looks at first to just be the purchase cost, but hearing should be checked every year and adjustments made to the hearing aids. The cost of maintenance and repairs is also not factored in.

More people helped – The most positive outcome of these devices is that more people will get help sooner and help thwart the negative effects of hearing loss like cognitive decline.

Prescription Hearing Aids vs. OTC And Online Hearing Devices


  1. OTC devices do not require a hearing test before purchase.
  2. You work through the process of fitting the device yourself.
  3. You must order your own parts for repairs.
  4. Troubleshooting any issues is your responsibility.
  5. They are meant for people with a mild to moderate hearing loss.

Prescription Hearing Aids

  1. Our hearing aids require a comprehensive hearing evaluation, which includes the outer, middle, and inner ear. This allows us to determine if a hearing aid is needed or if there is something else causing the problem.
  2. The devices are then customized to your hearing loss, the size and shape of your ear, and your everyday listening needs.
  3. They come with our full support and maintenance program to make sure you are getting the maximum benefit from hearing aids.
  4. There is a hearing aid for every degree of hearing loss.

Hearing aids are not a one-size-fits-all device. No two ears are alike, even if they are on the same head. Even people with the same exact hearing in each ear perceive the sound very differently in their brains, so one hearing aid has to be set louder or softer than the other.

Wire lengths and domes also vary, and we choose them based on the degree of hearing loss and the size of the ear canal. Some people require a custom-made earpiece because of the unique size or shape of their ear canal.​

The Process Of Getting A Custom-Fit Hearing Aid

The process begins with a comprehensive hearing evaluation that assesses the outer, middle, and inner ear and looks at the ear-to-brain function.

Based on the results and your daily hearing needs, we recommend hearing devices. We fit you with the devices, often the same day, and that begins your 30-day trial period.

During this time, we keep close contact with you and see you at least two more times so that we can measure how you are performing with the hearing aids, adjust them to maximize your hearing, and show you how to best use them. We also introduce you to other capabilities your hearing aids may have.

When we are satisfied that you are receiving appropriate benefits, we put you on a quarterly maintenance program and see you at least annually to update your hearing test and make sure the hearing aids still have the appropriate settings.

You have to do all this yourself if you purchase online.

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Comprehensive Hearing Assessments By A Hearing Expert

An online hearing assessment might not be accurate.

To begin with, headphones or earphones are not all alike; they have different outputs and frequency ranges. The surroundings people take the tests in are also not alike. Usually, online tests are taken at home for convenience, but this isn’t usually a soundproof environment.

The booth at the clinic is soundproofed. Both the surrounding noise and the type of earphone influence the test results. In our clinic, the environment and the equipment are both calibrated so we know the results we get are true.

A comprehensive hearing assessment tells us what type of hearing loss is present, which tells us how to treat it correctly.

A cognitive assessment. At our clinic, we combine a functional hearing assessment with a cognitive assessment. Both help us to know not only what you are hearing but also what your brain does with the information it is receiving.

Reversing hearing loss. Only 10% of hearing loss can be medically reversed, but an audiologist would be able to identify those cases and make the appropriate referrals for medical intervention. Certain markers on the test results indicate a more serious problem causing the hearing loss.

The best hearing solution. Overall, the results point us in the direction needed to treat the hearing loss. Since 90% of hearing loss cannot be medically treated, we know the solution for many is hearing aids.

The results tell us the most appropriate type of hearing device, the best way to adjust it, and give us a baseline so we can compare your progress with the hearing aids to that baseline from then on.

There is a definite difference between hearing and understanding speech. Based on all our testing, we can help the patient have the most success possible and give them realistic expectations.

The best fit. An audiologist uses the information from the audiogram (hearing test results) to customize the hearing aid settings to your particular hearing loss. The results from the functional and cognitive tests help us to predict how well you will do with the hearing aids.

Services Included In An Audiologist’s Ongoing Hearing Care Plan

Services in the ongoing hearing care plan include:

  • Annual hearing screening
  • Batteries
  • Counseling and reorientation
  • Curbside pickup and drop off for repairs
  • Dome removal
  • Electroacoustic performance analysis
  • Firmware update
  • In-office repair
  • Loaner program
  • Maintenance supplies
  • Otoscopy
  • Phone connectivity support
  • Quarterly filter, tubing, dome cover replacements
  • Quarterly performance assessment
  • Recharger
  • Reprogramming, as indicated
  • Remote programming, as indicated
  • Same day urgent care
  • 20% off wireless accessories
  • 3-year loss and damage

The Importance Of Regular Checkups With An Audiologist

Only an audiologist can monitor the health of your ears and maintain the proper operation of the hearing aids.

Additionally, if there is any change in your hearing, the audiologist can identify it and reset the hearing aids so that they are working the best way possible to help your hearing loss.

Hearing aids need to be adjusted for several reasons. When someone is first fit with hearing aids and going through the adaptation period, the hearing aids can be gradually increased as the patient becomes more comfortable with the sounds around them.

Over time, hearing typically declines, so any changes in hearing call for an adjustment to the devices. Sometimes the adjustment has to do with physical changes such as weight loss or weight gain.

This causes the fit of the device to change and feedback may become an issue. Other times, ear conditions can cause temporary changes in hearing, and temporary changes can be made to help you hear until the problem resolves.

Enjoy Optimized Hearing For Life

As an audiologist, I want to make sure you are getting the best possible help for your hearing loss so you can enjoy communicating easily with family and friends. No matter what you need to care for your hearing health, we have the knowledge, expertise, and compassion necessary to make sure your treatment is always top notch.

If you would like to have your hearing health checked regularly, treated expertly, and prevent future damage, the Hear in Texas family is here to help.

Contact us to book a hearing assessment or consultation or to have any questions answered.  

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Dr. Sally Miranda

Dr. Sally Miranda is a trusted audiologist that has dedicated most of her life to audiology and researching innovative ways to serve her patients. She has cared for thousands of ears and is recognized as a leading provider in the region.

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