Many common hearing-related problems can be corrected with hearing aids.
Hearing aids have advanced to the point where hearing can be dramatically improved in both quiet and noisy situations. For the majority of the nearly 50 million Americans living with hearing loss, hearing aids can significantly improve quality of life as well.
In order to ensure the right device is selected for your specific needs, you’ll need to have a hearing aid evaluation.
The first step in the hearing aid evaluation process is the get a better understanding of your lifestyle. This usually includes asking a series of questions of things like your preferred activities, what you spend most of your time doing, and what kind of work you do. This information can be used to narrow down a particular hearing aid style that may benefit you.
The next step is to take a look at your overall health and your hearing history to get a better understanding of what may be affecting your hearing. For instance, there are studies that suggest diabetes may affect hearing or contribute to hearing loss. Other common conditions such as high blood pressure and kidney disease have also been linked to hearing loss. This part of the hearing aid evaluation process may also include asking about issues with:
- Ear ringing (tinnitus)
- Diseases that may affect hearing, such as Meniere’s disease
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Childhood ear infections
- Having more difficulty hearing men or women speak
- Recurring ear pain
You may also be asked about over-the-counter and prescription medications you may be taking on a regular basis. This is because certain medications could affect hearing or contribute to hearing loss.
In order to see if you are a good candidate for a hearing aid and to determine how to adjust settings if you are, your hearing will be tested. Such tests asses your ability to hear certain tones and ranges of sound. A hearing evaluation may involve visually examining your ears with an otoscope, air and bone conduction testing, and word discrimination testing. The results, usually presented graphically as an audiogram, will show which sounds you are hearing just fine and which sounds you are missing.
Hearing Aid Fitting and Adjustment
The final step in the process is to use the results of the hearing aid evaluation to select an appropriate device if it’s determined you’ll likely benefit from a hearing aid. Your hearing aid will be specifically designed for the shape of your ear. It will also be adjusted based on the audiogram results to address your particular hearing loss issues. Special software is used to adjust settings. An audiologist can also answer your questions and demonstrate how to correctly insert and remove your hearing aid(s).
Many patients are under the assumption that one hearing aid can work just as well as two devices. While this may be true under certain circumstances, there are advantages to having both ears evaluated for hearing aids, such as a better balance of hearing and improved comprehension in various environments. Keep in mind that adjustments can be made if there are some situations where you’re still not able to hear as well as you would like to.