Nowadays, not all products marketed as hearing aids are made equal. Over the past several years, advancements in wireless technology and micro-electronics have opened the door for devices resembling hearing aids to enter the market.
These products can range from hearablesto medically prescribed hearing aids. Over-the-counter hearing aids, which are medical devices that can properly be used to correct hearing loss, are being introduced in the worldwide, which further muddles the difference between hearables and proper hearing aids.
An apt analogy, when comparing hearables to hearing aids, is to look at the difference between reader glasses and prescribed bifocals. Reader glasses are simply magnifying lenses that are set into a glasses frame; all they do is magnify what you see.
Bifocals are designed so that one section of the lens clarifies close-up items, and another section clarifies things that are far away.
In that same sense, hearables simply amplify the full range of sound that you hear.
Prescribed hearing aids, on the other hand, might amplify a high pitch sound more than a mid-range sound or a low, rumbling bass sound.
This is because prescribed hearing aids are set up based on a hearing test, which not only determines how well you hear in general, but how well you hear certain pitches.
A hearing test creates an audiogram, which is a graphical epresentation of how well you hear certain pitches at certain volumes. Your hearing care professional will use that graph to program your prescribed hearing aids, so that you can hear a high pitch just as well as you can a
Technically, prescribed hearing aids will help you hear certain sounds better than hearables can. But there is a much more important difference between hearables and hearing aids: a hearing care professional, who can take on many roles.
They can be a consultant who recommends the right hearing aids for your lifestyle. They can be a technician who adjusts your hearing aids based on the demands of your listening environment. Or they can be a counsellor who helps you navigate challenging listening situations as you adapt to life with hearing aids.
In short, hearables offer a product that turns up the volume, while hearing aids, prescribed by a hearing care professional, offer a better sound experience coupled with the support of a medical professional who understands hearing loss.