Over the Counter versus Prescription. We all learned the difference between these two classifications during elementary school health class. Over the counter medications are those that you can buy at the drug store without any written orders from a doctor. These medications are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have explicit instructions for use, but they can be administered by non-professionals and aren’t given specifically to a single person. On the other hand, prescription drugs are prescribed by a professional and intended for use by an individual patient to treat a specific illness or issue.
Up until now, hearing aids have fallen under the same classification as prescription medications. Classified as a Class I or Class II medical device, hearing aids must be dispensed by a licensed hearing professional. But all of that is about to change. In 2017, a federal law was passed that directed the FDA to ease the barriers of buying hearing aids. The results of that law will be seen starting in 2020, when people will be able to buy hearing aids as over the counter devices.
While there are some benefits to improved access for hearing aids, opening this segment up to over the counter processes allows people to purchase a device without the aid of an audiologist. While over the counter hearing aids might seem to be a convenient and cost-saving option, there are many reasons why getting hearing aids from an audiologist remains important.
Audiologists perform a thorough hearing evaluation, which not only determines whether you need one or two hearing aids but also helps with identifying the right device for your specific hearing loss.
· An examination can help determine if there is a medical reason for hearing loss, allowing the audiologist to recommend further treatment.
· An audiologist is trained to fit the hearing aid properly so it is both physically comfortable and provides you the best benefit from the device.
· Audiologists will program the device properly to your specific needs. Unlike reading glasses, which you put on and immediately see more clearly, when you put on a hearing aid you might experience improved hearing, but you also don’t know what you’re missing. A device not programmed correctly could even be harmful to your hearing.
· Hearing loss is often progressive. An audiologist will continue to monitor your hearing loss and adjust your hearing aids as needed.
· An audiologist guides and counsels you through the adjustments to all aspects of your hearing care needs. They also help you and your family learn to better communicate. The care provided by an audiologist does not end after the sale and initial fit of the hearing aids. They are with you as your hearing needs and lifestyle changes to help ensure your best success.
Your hearing is not something to be taken lightly. Consequences of hearing loss go far beyond not catching everything that’s said at a dinner party. It has been associated with cognitive decline, mental depression and social isolation. For this reason, the professionals at Piedmont Ear, Nose and Throat Associates recommend you consult with an audiologist for hearing aids, in order to experience the best results and better health. Give us a call today at 336-768-3361 to learn more and schedule an appointment.