You may not have heard of the term “prescription hearing aids” before, but it is now becoming a standard term because of President Biden’s executive order last year, which allowed the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids.

There are a lot of rules around what can be sold over the counter when it comes to hearing devices. The main difference between prescription hearing aids and retail-bought hearing aids is that prescription hearing aids are more traditional – they are hearing aids that are prescribed and fitted by hearing professionals based on an expert hearing evaluation.

With there now being two categories of hearing aid, many consumers are confused as to the difference between the two and which option might be right for their hearing loss.

In this article, I go over the key differences for you so that you can take comfort in making the best decision for your hearing needs based on all the information at hand.

How Are Prescription Hearing Aids Different from Non-Prescription Hearing Aids?

Customized or generic –To give a simple analogy, buying prescription hearing aids is like buying prescription eyeglasses – your glasses are created based on the test the optician gives you. Each lens is created specifically for your sight’s deficiencies.

Buying non-prescription hearing aids is like foregoing the visit to the optician altogether and instead buying generic glasses from your nearest grocery superstore.

A short-term or long-term solution – Over-the-counter or non-prescription hearing aids are a good choice for people with early signs of a hearing loss or for those who just need hearing help for certain situations rather than help 24/7. They’ll do the job in a pinch, but if you use them for too long, your eyes will get tired.

For example, you might not be able to hear well in a restaurant, meeting, or party, so you put in your over-the-counter hearing aids and you can hear speech more clearly.

Quality or “good enough for now” – Prescription hearing aids are a much better choice for people who need sound quality and good reduction of background noise all the time, and they are designed to be comfortable thanks to their made-to-measure custom fit and custom molds.

Day-to-day help – You won’t get any help fitting or adjusting a retail store-bought hearing device, nor will you get any follow-up care or hearing care for the next few years. When you buy a prescription hearing aid, all the hearing care is included or provided at a sharp discount.

How Can I Buy Prescription Hearing Aids?

Prescription hearing aids require a hearing evaluation carried out by a hearing health expert first. This way you learn what your exact hearing needs are – what pitch, tone, and volume you can hear and what word sounds you understand.

If we find that prescription hearing aids are the best course of treatment for your hearing loss, we then recommend a hearing plan to ensure that your prescribed device is fitted, adjusted, and programmed to deliver exactly what your hearing needs.

Want the Best Hearing Solution for Your Unique Hearing Needs

What Type of Hearing Aid Should I Buy?

Because most people don’t assess their degree of hearing loss accurately, it can be difficult to know what type of hearing device would serve you best. Do you need something long term right now or something that gives you the occasional hearing boost when you need it?

Many of our patients, when they first come to us, think they only have a mild hearing loss, but their hearing test reveals they have a moderate hearing loss instead. This is because hearing loss is very gradual.

When we fit them with the right hearing device, often it’s an emotional experience because they realize how many sounds they have missed out on.

Please don’t miss out anymore and come see us!

How Do I Get a Hearing Aids Prescription?

The first step to knowing what kind of hearing aid is best for you is to get a hearing evaluation. Just like getting your eyesight tested, you need to get your hearing tested to get the correct diagnosis and treatment plan. There’s simply no way to treat your hearing properly other than to base it on a professional hearing test.

At SOUND Audiology & Hearing Aids, we will only recommend what we believe is the best course of hearing treatment for you based on your hearing evaluation results, which we get as soon as it is completed.

That recommendation might be over-the-counter hearing aids or prescription hearing aids, but it will always be the best recommendation for your unique type of hearing loss and circumstances.

If you’re concerned about your hearing or a loved one’s hearing, then book a hearing evaluation to learn what’s needed to help you have the best hearing possible and to ensure the best long-term outcome for your hearing health.

Also, feel free to call us with any questions. We look forward to helping.

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Lori Losey Lovato MA, FAAA, Audiologist

Discover articles and resources written exclusively by Lori Losey Lovato - MA, FAAA. Lori believes in developing close relationships with each and every patient.