The danger of buying hearing aids online

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Maybe you heard in the news that as of October 17, 2022, American consumers could purchase OTC hearing aids from retail outlets without involving hearing healthcare professionals. It is essential to know that Over the Counter (OTC) hearing aids, which can sell without a prescription in the USA, are not authorized for sale in Ontario and all marketing and advertising of OTC hearing aids, whether in print, online, on TV, or over the radio, is illegal in Canada. Hearing aids are a medical device, so they must be prescribed.

You may wonder why? “Aren’t hearing aids just glorified earbuds?” No. A hearing aid is a highly sophisticated device that requires a professional to assess, select, program, verify and maintain throughout its lifespan. Without a hearing health care professional’s unique knowledge and counselling, many hearing aids end up in drawers rather than ears.

The first step is to have a hearing test performed in a soundproof room by a trained professional using equipment which is calibrated annually. An examination of the ear canal is performed to ensure that the ear canal is clear of wax. If not, the wax is removed. Red flags are identified and communicated to the patient’s family doctor. The trained professional will provide applications if the case history reveals eligibility for third-party funding.

Selection of the most suitable device requires a consultation considering the patient’s degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, budget, cognition and dexterity. Customized styles require a silicon impression of the ear. One size does not fit all.

Hearing aids are programmed by computer and verified using real ear measurement. This process measures the ear canal’s unique characteristics and the sound delivered at the ear drum to allow the professional to fine-tune the devices precisely.

All these steps are essential to ensure that the are aids fit correctly and safely. Hearing aids that aren’t fit correctly can cause further harm to the patient’s hearing.

Ultimately, services that support the patient and ensure success are ongoing and provided in the clinic. These include: 

  • Teaching the patient how to wear and use the aids correctly.
  • Counselling the patient and their family members to establish realistic expectations and additional communication strategies.
  • Removing ear wax regularly, performing assessments and reprogramming if a change in hearing has occurred.
  • Providing regular cleaning, maintenance, repairs, troubleshooting and firmware updates.

So as you can see, hearing aids are more than just complex earbuds.

If you are interested in learning more about your ears, you can begin your journey by visiting a hearing healthcare professional. We at Beach Hearing offer free hearing assessments, so call us at 705-352-3200 to make an appointment.