Hearing aids are medical devices that are fit to a prescribed level for each unique hearing loss. Hearing aids need to be programmed to give you the volume you need only where you need it and not where you don’t. Hearing aids that are purchased online without a hearing test and direct to the consumer are called personal amplifiers. These would not be programmed. Personal amplifiers basically turn up the volume on everything. The problem is that most people hear medium volume and loud sounds just fine. We don’t want to make loud sounds even louder. Hearing aids, on the other hand, are programmed to increase the soft sounds up to your threshold while keeping loud and average sounds unamplified or mildly amplified.
The goal is to amplify sounds you can’t hear, not the sounds you already can. When you visit a hearing clinic, they test your hearing to determine how well you hear at various pitches ranging from low to high. Some pitches you might hear just as well as someone with normal hearing whereas at other pitches you may have a severe hearing deficiency without realizing it.
When people speak up, the volume of their voices go up, however some sounds you cannot make louder simply by raising your voice. As an example, try yelling the sounds “p”, “f”, or “th”. If these consonants fall into a region you cannot hear no matter how much we raise our voices the words are still not clear. Hearing in a crowded room may become extremely difficult. In this case, we would amplify the region where these consonants fall without raising the overall volume of their voice. This personalized programming cannot be achieved online or over-the-counter.