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You Need Hearing Aids. Now What?

You Need Hearing Aids. Now What?

You Need Hearing Aids. Now What?

Q: It turns out I need hearing aids. Whatís my next step?

A: Hearing aids arenít one-size-fits-all devices, so your question is a good sign youíre approaching this with the right mindset. Your first step is to confirm youíve had a complete audiological evaluation.

An online “hearing test” canít determine whether you need hearing aids ó it simply reports whether youíre hearing certain sounds. Only an audiological evaluation can determine if you have hearing loss that requires hearing aids. If you havenít had one, this is your next step. If you have, itís time to schedule your hearing aid consultation.

Choose Your Provider
Any hearing aid is simply a tool. It has to be selected, customized, and fit to your ear by an experienced professional in order treat your specific hearing loss. Then itís your key to a better quality of life.

A clinical audiologist or doctor of audiology has had postgraduate education and training in all aspects of the human auditory system. Theyíre experienced in diagnostics, hearing aid fitting and programming, providing strategies for adapting to your new technology, and supporting you in your adjustment period. In short, with an audiologist, you get a partner and guide, not a transaction.

Use the Buddy System
Itís ideal to bring a friend or family member to the appointment to have a second perspective on your hearing loss journey.

Review Your Results
You and the audiologist will review the results of your evaluation as well as all the things youíd like to improve through better hearing, such as hobbies, conversations with loved ones, and activities. Knowing what your goals are will help determine the ideal type of hearing aid for you.
 

Select a Hearing Aid

Weigh the variables
Many factors determine what hearing aid you need, such as which sounds you canít hear, how loud those sounds need to be amplified, and the size of your ear canal. And thatís just the beginning.

Do you want to be able to control the volume and nudge the settings with a smartphone app? How about “hearable” tech that monitors your heart rate and other body and brain wellness factors? Do you hope to stream music, video, and other audio from a mobile device direct to your hearing aids? You and your provider will discuss these factors and more. Youíll be surprised at everything hearing technology can do now!

Consider the recommendation
This is where the audiologistís expertise really shines. When they make their recommendation, they will have synthesized all the hearing lifestyle information you provided, all the data from your hearing evaluation, and their wealth of knowledge about the hundreds of available hearing aid styles. They will have truly custom-tailored your solution.

Order the hearing aids
After you test-drive and decide on your hearing technology, thereís a strong chance it will have to be ordered and shipped to the provider. There are hundreds of styles ó too many for your average provider to keep in inventory. Plus, many styles need to be custom fit to your ear canal. When they arrive at your providerís office, your provider will call to schedule a fitting appointment.
 

As you can see, itís not as simple as pulling a box of hearing aids off a shelf. But all these steps lead to you experiencing a world alive with sound!

Illustration of a woman reading a book

Q&A: What To Expect At A Hearing Evaluation

Q: What can I expect at my complete hearing evaluation?

A: Many people think a hearing evaluation is where your provider plays a tone, and you simply indicate whether you can hear it. Fortunately, a hearing evaluation is more thorough than that and happens in four steps.


A typical hearing evaluation lasts from 30 to 90 minutes, and we encourage you to bring a trusted loved one with you. We find that a complementary perspective can help paint a complete picture of how your hearing loss is affecting you and your family. They can also take notes for you to refer back to later.
 

The Conversation

During this step, we review and discuss your medical history. You describe what sort of hearing problems you experience in common situations and how the hearing issues affect you and your loved ones.

But we’ll go beyond that, because the better I know you, the better I can custom-tailor a solution to your unique hearing loss.

We discuss your workplace, your hobbies and activities, and your family life. We do this so I can understand what might be causing your hearing loss as well as what things are key to your hearing lifestyle now and moving forward.
 

The Examination

Did you know sometimes resolving hearing loss is as simple as a good ear cleaning? That’s why the first thing that happens after our conversation is an ear inspection with something called an otoscope. This allows me to see if earwax, fluid, or debris is blocking your ear canal and whether a part of your ear is damaged.
 

The Diagnostic Evaluation

This comprehensive evaluation comprises tests to determine the degree and type of your hearing loss as well as the conditions of your outer and middle ear. Which tests are performed depends on your age, symptoms, and medical history. Everyone, however, receives the first three tests.

  1. Pure-tone air-conduction test
    This test is what people think of as a hearing screening or test. You put on headphones, listen for beeps or tones, and indicate which sounds you can hear. With this test, I can determine the quietest sound you can hear at different pitches.
  2. Bone-conduction test
    A different kind of headphone is used for this test. It tells me from where your hearing loss most likely originates and, therefore, what kind it is.
  3. Speech test
    You will hear words via headphones and you’ll repeat them. This measures how well you hear and understand words at different volumes.
  4. Tympanometry
    Placing a probe at the end of your ear canal, I will painlessly use air-pressure changes to see if your eardrum moves correctly, doesn’t move enough, or has a hole in it.
  5. Otoacoustic emissions test
    Using a different kind of probe, I will send a sound into your ear canal. Based on how your inner ear responds, I can learn information about the very tiny sound-receptor cells in your inner ear.

 

The Solution

Treatment options are based on all of the preceding steps. Because no two hearing losses are the same, no two solutions are, either.

Reviewing the results
We’ll review the results of your examination and diagnostic tests to determine whether you have hearing loss, what type, and what your options are moving forward. For example, you might require further evaluation from an ear specialist if the physical examination reveals damage to your ear.

Technology options
If we decide technology is your best option, we’ll determine together what style and level of technology will best support your hearing goals.

For example, some people require technology that filters out lots of background noise, whereas others don’t. Some people have ear canals that will accommodate completely-in-the-canal technology; others don’t.
 

An Active Participant

This process is all about your unique hearing needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, request that I repeat something, or be candid. This evaluation is the beginning of a relationship, not a transaction. Your active participation will lead to the most satisfying outcome for your hearing health.

Contact us if you’d like to know more about the process or to schedule an evaluation!