Considering the news that hearing aids can now be bought online and in shops in the US, I’ve had customers asking me if that’s coming soon to Canada. The short answer is no, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it became legal in the next twelve months or so.

Right now, hearing aids can only be bought with a hearing prescription in Canada, but if they do make the prescription law different, then we’ll have to rename our traditional hearing aids in much the same way as hearing professionals have across the border – calling them prescription hearing aids.

When I look at the term “prescription hearing aids,” I think that basically specifies exactly what we provide, compared to what else is available on the internet.

OTC Vs. Prescription Hearing Aids – The Key Differences

Hearing test – The first step for anyone who suspects a hearing loss should be a hearing test, but with over-the-counter hearing aids, that’s not a requirement for purchase!

But hearing aids are not a one-size-fits-all kind of treatment.

Hearing aids are based on the individual, and everyone’s hearing loss is different. What might be right for one might not be right for the next person.

Our job as hearing specialists is to show you all the examples and options of what you can have and then have you choose what’s best, with our guidance.

Volume Control – Over-the-counter hearing aids are actually great for people with a mild hearing loss, as long as they have volume limiters, because the concern is that people are going to turn them up to a point where they’re going to damage their hearing further. And that’s not what we want to see.

If store-bought hearing aids do become available here, we’d need them regulated so they can only have a certain amount of amplification. Otherwise, they will do more harm than good.

When you turn the volume up on a hearing aid, it’s just like turning the volume up on your TV — you’re amplifying everything — whereas we can adjust a prescription hearing aid.

For example, if the hearing loss is only in the lowest frequency, we can just adjust the lows and make it more adaptable and comfortable in different situations.

People who have a little bit of a stronger hearing loss, or a more complicated hearing loss, should always turn to prescription hearing aids. However, there’s a place for over-the-counter hearing aids for people with a very mild loss.

Fitting – The thing with prescription hearing aids is that we can offer a lot more options for fine-tuning and limiting volumes, putting in extra programs, and making them more adaptable.

The Best Place To Start

Hearing Professional Or Online Store?

1. Quality testing – A hearing test will never match a test done in a sound booth because we measure for more than just volume. We also measure tone, pitch, word recognition, and eardrum health.

2. Accurate results – Because of the accurate results of a professional hearing test, we can program your hearing aids to match exactly what you need to hear better.

3. Maintenance and repairs – If there’s a problem with a store-bought hearing aid, you have to package it up, ship it off, wait until they fix it, and wait for it to ship back. And even then, it might not be set right anymore!

4. If you book an appointment with us, we can clean out and readjust the hearing aids, get them ready, and get them right back in your ears in 10 to 15 minutes. The odd time that we do have to send them to the manufacturer, we usually get them back within a week.

5. Time without hearing aids – Our patients don’t like to be without their hearing aids for even one day, and an online manufacturer is not going to send you loaners to wear in the meantime. We do have loaners – if the hearing aids are still under warranty.

Got More Questions About Prescription Hearing Aids?

You could always Google your questions, but then you don’t know the quality of the advice you’re getting. You don’t know if the articles you’re reading are unbiased or sponsored by the company that makes those hearing aids.

It’s always good to at least give us or another hearing professional a phone call or email, or message us on Facebook. I have no problem answering those questions. We don’t charge for a quick consult through these channels.

Call us and have a quick chat, or even come into the office and book an appointment for a consult, and just say, “Here are my options; what do you think is best for me?”

And if you don’t know what you need yet, book a hearing assessment so we can help you find out.

No matter what you need to improve your hearing, we’re here to help.

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Chris Arnold - Owner & HIS

Growing up in Kitchener, Ontario, Chris went to Durham and George Brown College. As the owner of Arnold Hearing Centres, he manages all locations, as well as handles all the marketing, reporting, meetings, and makes sure that both the staff and patients have a positive experience. Ultimately, there is a lot of pressure on Chris to ensure he delivers results year after year, but he credits the clinic’s success down to the amazing staff that has now become family. Truly, he enjoys working alongside everyone each day.