While hearing amplifiers and hearing aids often look similar, it’s important to know the differences between the two types of devices. Both differ in price, ease of accessibility, and purpose, but even more importantly, if you use the wrong one, you can further damage your hearing.
While hearing aids are specifically meant for people who have some degree of hearing loss, hearing amplifiers are meant for recreational use. This means you can use a hearing amplifier for activities like birdwatching, attending the theater, or simply listening to the TV or music louder than your neighbors would appreciate.
While hearing amplifiers can be purchased by anyone at pharmacies and many retailers, you must be prescribed hearing aids by a doctor. Hearing aids are also not covered by Medicare and can often run thousands of dollars if you need one for each ear.
However, the bipartisan Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 is bringing OTC hearing aids to pharmacies sometime in the next few years. This will make hearing aids more affordable to the millions of Americans who need hearing assistance and are currently living without.
When to consider a hearing aid
Important note: you should not attempt to use a hearing amplifier if you have genuine hearing loss. If you do so, you risk the chance of further damaging your hearing with the increased sound.
Signs of hearing loss:
- Sensation of muffled hearing
- Difficulty following group conversations
- Frequently asking people to repeat what they’ve said
- Finding yourself lipreading
- Difficulty talking on the telephone
- Needing to increase music, radio, or TV volume
- Difficulty hearing in busy or noisy environments
- Choosing to avoid social events
- Finding yourself increasingly impatient, frustrated, or withdrawn
If you have hearing loss, do not use a hearing amplifier. See a doctor so you can have your hearing measured for a hearing aid designed for your specific hearing needs.