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Facts About Hearing Aids, Prescriptions And Audiologists

What are hearing aids?

Hearing aids, especially those developed in recent years, are very sophisticated electronic devices that amplify sound to compensate for an individual’s hearing loss. While hearing aids are not a cure, they often minimize the consequences of hearing loss, and can lead to an enhanced quality of life. However, just as is the case with eyeglasses or medicine, if hearing aids are not properly prescribed, serious harm can result. This is why hearing aid prescription is controlled under the Regulated Health Professions Act.

Do I need a prescription to Obtain Hearing aids?

Yes. In order to protect the public, it is illegal for hearing aids to be dispensed without a prescription from a regulated professional who is entitled to perform this act. Audiologists are legally allowed to prescribe hearing aids; hearing aid dealers (or hearing aid dispensers /practioners/ “specialists”) are not.

What is a Hearing aid prescription?

In comparison to those with normal hearing, most individuals with hearing loss do not simply hear less-they hear differently. Hearing is extremely complex, and may individual factors have to be considered by an Audiologist to determine specific hearing aid characteristics required to provide optimal benefit. Hearing aids that are otherwise identical in their model and manufacturer can either be helpful or harmful depending on the parameters determined by the prescription.

How Have Hearing Aids improved in recent years?

Technological advances have increased the flexibility of hearing aids to accommodate far more patient-specific factors in order to improve performance. Moreover, hearing aids can be used to help treat a broader range of hearing losses than in years past. It is crucial to remember that hearing aids cannot repair any damage to the auditory system and that your Audiologist is uniquely qualified to ensure that the maximum potential benefits from hearing aids will be achieved.

Which Hearing Aid Is Right for you?

A hearing aid prescription from an Audiologist requires clinical judgement and involves highly individualized and evidence-based protocols that treat the person-not just the hearing loss. Audiologists work closely with patients and their families to determine which hearing aids, and even more importantly, the specific sound characteristics to provide optimal performance and communication benefits. Not all hearing losses require, or can benefit from hearing aids. Your Audiologist can identify other treatments, which may be suitable.

Why should I obtain my hearing aid prescription from an Audiologist?

Prescribing hearing aids is a complex, detailed, and patient-specific process that requires in-depth knowledge about human hearing and communication, as well as expert clinical judgement. With Masters, or Doctorate degrees in Audiology, Audiologists are uniquely qualified to perform comprehensive evaluations of hearing to determine whether hearing aids are part of an appropriate treatment. Moreover, Audiologists are the only regulated healthcare provider held to stringent professions-specific practice guidelines when prescribing hearing aids.

Some hearing aid dealers and/or hearing aid dispensers/practitioners/“specialists” offer consumers hearing tests and will “select” hearing aids. These unregulated providers do not have degrees in Audiology and are not entitled to prescribe hearing aids. Instead, they require a signature from a physician who can legally prescribe hearing aids. This practice, which is already disallowed for the prescription of medicine and eyeglasses, falls far short of professional audiology standards. You have the right to be informed about the credentials and qualifications of health care professionals in whom you place your trust. Your hearing deserves an Audiologist.

This article is reprinted from the Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologist and Audiologists (OSLA).

Auburn and Mountain Hearing Centres is proud to serve our community by Hamilton’s First practicing Doctor of Audiology in the region and Hamilton’s only Doctor of Audiology in audiology owned private practice.

Auburn & Mountain Hearing Centres are a proud member of OSLA.

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