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Should I Purchase Hearing Aids From The Pharmacist .....

The short answer is NO!

The longer answer is a bit more nuanced.

But let's start from the beginning. Hearing aids are delightful little instruments that help people with hearing difficulties hear again. However, they do come with restrictions. One of those requirements is the need to be programmed prior to use. Hearing aid programing is extremely important to ensure that the user receives sufficient sound amplification from their hearing aids. This is where an audiologist comes in. They will ensure that your hearing aids are not too loud or too soft. However, before your hearing aids can be programmed, it is mandatory for you to undergo a hearing test. Why?

Essentially, different people will have different hearing levels. These hearing levels are influenced by multiple factors such as genetics, lifestyle and the aging process. We can determine your hearing levels by carrying out a hearing test. The results of the hearing test will then guide the audiologist in programing your hearing aids. This is because an individual with poorer hearing needs greater sound amplification from their hearing aids compared to an individual with better hearing. This works in a similar fashion to vision. People with nearsightedness need to find out their refractive error (eye power) before making spectacles. This is to ensure the glasses are able to correct their vision. An optometrist will find out the power in each eye through an eye examination. Similarly, hearing aids need to be programmed by an audiologist based on the results from the hearing test because each hearing aid is unique to their respective user's hearing level.

So back to the original question: Can pharmacists prescribe hearing aids? Well, the answer is a resounding no. Pharmacists are not certified in the management of hearing loss. While they can dispense medication from a physician's prescription, they may not have the necessary training and education needed to effectively test your hearing and program hearing aids. Moreover, they may not have a proper environment and complete test equipment as hearing assessments need to be conducted in sound-treated rooms. Hence, this may lead to low satisfaction and unnecessary waste of funds when patients realise their concern is left unadressed. So who do we seek for help?

No one with hearing loss should have to suffer in silence. Audiologists are healthcare professionals who specialise in hearing and balance disorders. All audiologists in Malaysia would need to have a minimum of 4 years of tertiary education and several hundred hours of clinical training before receiving certification as an audiologist. Hence, they are among the only professionals that are trained to help people struggling with hearing loss. Most audiologists are employed within hearing centres such as 20dB Hearing or hospitals around the country. These centres are equipped with the latest tools and resources to conduct a wide variety of tests such as Tympanometry, Acoustic Stapedial Reflex test, Real Ear Measures and Pure Tone Audiometry which has long been held in regard as the gold standard to diagnose hearing loss.

In summary, it is advisable to go the extra mile and drop by a hearing aid centre instead. While you should definitely get your vitamins and prescription drugs from the pharmacy, when it comes to your hearing, invest in yourself and consult a certified audiologist today.

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