For the last few decades, we have always accepted that “hearing aids” is the standard term for hearing devices prescribed by a hearing professional. This is no longer the case.

In 2021, President Biden’s executive order changed things up to where we now have two terms for hearing aids:

  • Prescription hearing aids – traditional, medical-grade, prescribed hearing aids
  • Hearing aids – over-the-counter, nonprescription hearing aids

The reason for this executive order was so that more Americans would have access to cheaper hearing aids that were FDA-approved yet did not require the services of an audiologist for purchase.

This change of terms has left many people confused about the differences between the two and which type of hearing aid is best for them or their loved ones.

In this article, I will lay out the main differences so you can make your choice based on a more thorough understanding of how each type might benefit you.

Prescription Hearing Aid or Nonprescription Hearing Aid – The Differences

A nonprescription hearing aid is a hearing aid that has FDA approval to be sold directly to the consumer. It’s similar to buying eyeglasses that can be bought online or in a big box store.

These hearing aids are good for people with a mild hearing loss who need occasional help throughout the day so they can hear what’s being said clearly. Most of these moments are when background noise is too loud, and the nonprescription hearing aids focus on the sound of speech and deliver it to the ears.

People like the thought of buying these because of their low price point and because they offer some technological features that make the wearer’s day easier, such as streaming and hands-free phone calls.

Nonprescription hearing aids are an excellent introduction to hearing treatment for the reluctant because they look like earbuds, thereby helping the wearer be less self-conscious.

But just like buying eyeglasses in a drugstore, buying nonprescription hearing aids will only give you a generic form of hearing assistance. They won’t amplify the exact sounds your hearing system needs.

They are also not comfortable enough to wear all day, and some have been known to fall out because they are not professionally fitted.

Need clarity on which hearing aids to choose? Talk with a hearing expert.

Prescription hearing aids are not sold directly to the consumer; they can only be sold through a hearing professional such as an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. This would be similar to going to the optician before you buy your eyeglasses so you can have accurate test results.

Prescription hearing aids are the best treatment option for people with all degrees of hearing loss, and they can be comfortably worn 24/7 without the fear of them falling out because they are fitted to perfectly match your ear and ear canal sizes.

Most of the newer hearing aids available have all the latest technology features, such as streaming, telecoil, hands-free phone calls, and background noise reduction in different environments.

Today’s hearing aids come in many styles, with some being practically invisible, so there is always a style you can be happy about wearing.

Prescription hearing aids are also programmed specifically to match the results of your professional hearing evaluation, so every degree of pitch, tone, and volume your hearing is missing will be enhanced so you can hear clearly again.

The best thing of all about a prescription hearing aid is that everything happens with the support and encouragement of a hearing expert. There’s never a time when you can’t reach out for an adjustment, cleaning, repair, or just some good counsel.

What’s Better – A Prescription Hearing Aid or Nonprescription Hearing Aid?

It’s not so much that one is better than the other; it’s more that there is one type of hearing aid that is better for you and your lifestyle and degree of hearing loss.

Thanks to Aim Hearing and Audiology Services many years of experience and knowledge in helping the people of Greensboro find the best hearing aid for them, our team of experts is confident we can do the same for you.

We can’t count the number of times we have seen patients cry after being fitted with a hearing aid that meets all their needs, and they can once again hear all the sounds they didn’t know they had been missing.

The first step to knowing which hearing aid is better for you is to have a hearing evaluation. Only then will you know precisely what your ears need, and we can help guide you to some devices that you might enjoy wearing.

Schedule a comprehensive hearing assessment with us.

Feel free to call us at (336) 295-1064 with any questions you have about hearing healthcare. We promise we’ll do whatever we can to help you find a way to maximize your hearing and enjoy life’s riches once again.

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Dr. Shannon Frymark Au.D., CCC-A

Shannon Frymark, Au.D., CCC-A, audiologist, was raised in Greensboro, NC. She received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders and Master of Arts degree in Audiology from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. She was awarded her doctorate in Audiology from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry: School of Audiology. While in undergraduate and graduate school, she worked at the Central School for the Deaf as a residential counselor. Dr. Frymark spent the first five years of her audiology career with Florida Hospital in central Florida.