When you hear the words “hearing aids,” you probably think of the hearing devices that are prescribed and fitted by a hearing professional for mild to severe levels of hearing loss. But from now on, there will be two terms for hearing aids.

  1. Hearing aids – those that do not require the testing and guidance of a hearing professional
  2. Prescription hearing aids – traditional hearing aids that do

The reason for this is that President Biden released an executive order last year allowing for hearing aids to be purchased without a prescription. Now that the rules and regulations are waiting to be finalized, you can expect to see more and more hearing aid models in stores by brands such as Audicus, Bose, Eargo, Jabra, Lexie, and Lively.

Be aware that just because a hearing aid is listed as being FDA cleared or FDA registered, this does not mean the device has been approved by the FDA.

While we’re delighted that hearing treatment is now more accessible for those who have delayed or neglected treatment, we’re finding that some of our patients can be quite confused about the differences between the two.

In this post, I’ll share these distinctions to help you understand the pros and cons of each.

What’s the Difference Between Prescription Hearing Aids and Hearing Aids?

The biggest difference is that prescription hearing aids are prescribed by a hearing expert and hearing aids are not.

Hearing aids are now the generic form of prescription hearing aids, similar to eyeglasses bought in big box stores versus eyeglasses prescribed by an optician.

  • You can walk into a store or click a button online and buy these hearing aids without a hearing test.
  • You’ll need to fit them and program them yourself.
  • You’ll find that they are not comfortable for wearing 24/7, but they can be useful for giving you a hearing boost when you need it.
  • Carry them on your person and slip them on when there’s a lot of background noise that’s preventing you from hearing talks or conversations.
  • Styles and brands of these hearing aids are very limited.
  • Insurance companies will not pay for these.

Hearing aids can be a great tool for people with a very mild hearing loss who might not be quite ready for prescription hearing aids, and just like using generic reading glasses, they act as a good short-term solution.

The danger of not having a professional hearing test is that without the physical exam, medical history, and hearing test in a sound booth, serious medical conditions can be missed, and your hearing will not be treated accurately.

In some cases, people have bought non-prescription hearing aids only to find their hearing loss was caused by a buildup of earwax – something an audiologist would have quickly seen.

Prescription hearing aids are the new term for what we have always thought of as just hearing aids, and each ear’s hearing aid is programmed to a person’s prescription given by an audiologist, ENT doctor, or hearing aid dispenser.

  • A professional hearing evaluation is required before your hearing aids can be prescribed.
  • You then purchase them with the support and guidance of your hearing professional.
  • Your audiologist will fit them and program them for you, doing as many adjustments as necessary until they are comfortable enough to wear 24/7 and are always giving you what you need.
  • The number of styles and brands to choose from is large, so you can be guaranteed to find one that suits your preferences.
  • Scottsdale ENT offers a choice of payment plans and works with your insurance company on your behalf.

Prescription hearing aids work well for any degree of hearing loss and are an excellent long-term solution. You also have the benefit of local access to hearing aid “clean and checks,” a repair service, and ongoing support.

Which Type of Hearing Aid Is Best for You?

Because most people don’t recognize the early signs of a hearing loss, they are apt to misdiagnose their degree of hearing loss as mild when it’s become moderate and purchase a hearing aid that will not treat it properly.

We also find that people tend to go for the cheapest option when it comes to their hearing care because they are of the mind that “anything is better than nothing.” This perspective can end up even damaging your hearing further.

Scottsdale ENT has helped thousands of people in Arizona get the highest level of ENT healthcare available for their unique level of hearing loss, and we know we can help you too.

The first step to finding a hearing aid you are delighted with is a hearing evaluation. Book yours so you can get a head start on knowing what you need and so we can find out what’s causing your hearing loss.

Book your hearing assessment here.

If we find a medical issue, know you will be cared for by Arizona’s most advanced ENT care center as well as the state’s leading team of doctors.

If we find a buildup of earwax, we can clean it out for you and then check your hearing again to see if that was the issue.

Because we are not beholden to any single hearing aid manufacturer, we can give our unbiased opinion as to which hearing aids might work best for your hearing needs, lifestyle, and budget.

No matter what, your hearing health is our top priority. We hope you’ll give us the chance to show you just how good your hearing can be!

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Dr. Debra L. Hamila, Au.D., CCC/A

Debra Hamila received her master’s degree in audiology from Cleveland State University and her Au.D. from Arizona School of Health Sciences and has been a practicing audiologist for more than 33 years. She has worked in a variety of ENT offices, hospital, and clinical settings.
    You don’t realise you’re walking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again – Regina’s Story

    Regina has suffered from hearing problems since she was an infant, recognized as regular chronic ear infections. And, as with unfortunate events, she has experienced a multitude of audiology catastrophes.

    It was many years before Regina crossed paths with Scottsdale Ear, Nose & Throat; where her lifetime of hearing problems was addressed effectively and treated with the delicate care that she desperately required.

    Regina’s journey began when she was taken to a regular paediatrician by her mother from a young age. Her ears were, what we describe as an audiologists recipe for disaster, ‘flushed out’.

    This dangerous procedure caused a nasty infection, which spread to her mastoid bone and, at the age of 15, she underwent a tympanoplasty mastoidectomy to stop the infection spreading. This only forbade her future struggles with hearing loss. 

    As with poor diagnosis, Regina was faced with another canaloplasty which didn’t work. Soon after, she received a BAHA, which is a cochlear implant in her skull that acts as a sound processor that detects sound and transforms it into vibrations. 

    However, suffering from a history of poor hearing care, she was unaware of the former issues her ear presented.

    By now, this would be described as any audiologists nightmare. But, we’re proud to have helped Regina on her road to optimum hearing and reconnect her to her loved ones.

    When she arrived at Scottsdale Ear, Nose & Throat it was evident that she was losing hearing on her right side. At this point, she was fitted with a ReSound hearing device, which provided the catalyst to a new and improved hearing.

    The first thing Regina noticed was the indefinite sound she had been making whilst emptying the dishwasher, completely unaware of the noise she was making!

    “I mean, the detail that I can hear now it’s like, Whoa, I didn’t realize I was making that much noise. I need to be quieter!”

    Treated with professional care, Regina received a comprehensive hearing assessment with Dr. Debra Hamila.

    “I just love, love, love Dr. Hamila, she is such a professional and loving person. I was so impressed with the office and what she did with the ReSound, I just love her.”

    Like many others, it takes years for people to realize they have a hearing problem. Regina described this moment as life-changing.

    “You don’t realise you’re walking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again. Especially now I’m a full-time Grammy Nanny, I can hear so much more and it has enriched my life incredibly.”

    What advice would you give to someone who is deliberating on taking the first step towards better hearing?

    “My advice to them would be to have a hearing test. Especially as we age our hearing goes down. It’s really unfortunate that people carry their pride and are not willing to learn to walk with the rock in their shoe. You don’t realise you’re waking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again.”

    Regina is one of many patients who has been impacted by our audiological services and we are proud to have been able to provide the tool towards better hearing and a lifetime of many more memories.