If you are experiencing hearing loss, you may need to consider hearing aids, but are unsure of where to start. There are salespeople and stores that sell hearing devices, but how do you know what you really need and when?
An audiologist is a hearing care professional that can give you the right guidance when it comes to choosing a hearing aid. Before thinking about purchasing aids, you should speak to a health care professional for guidance.
What Defines a Hearing Aid?
You may see advertisements for hearing devices at very low costs but these are usually electronic devices that amplify sound, which is not the same as a hearing aid. Amplification devices are broadband amplifiers that pick up the variety of sound around you and amplify it equally. Most of the time, however, this isn’t actually helpful. Hearing loss is rarely equal across the pitch range, which means that people may lose hearing in one pitch, but not the other.
A hearing aid is a digital device that is programmed to a specific frequency based on the patient’s individual needs. Hearing aids constantly sample the listening environment to determine the volume of every incoming sound. Because it is programmed according to the person’s hearing, it only amplifies what is necessary, eliminating the risk of over-amplification which can exacerbate hearing loss.
Hearing aids also have the ability to separate speech from other types of noise in certain situations which is a great feature. Digital hearing aids are offered in a wide range of technology levels. The more technologically advanced models provide more separation from speech and other environmental sounds, to further improve hearing.
What Technology Level of Hearing Aid Do I Need?
A doctor of audiology can determine the right type of hearing aid after determining your lifestyle and the configuration of hearing loss you are experiencing. These two factors combined can help to identify the level of hearing aid that will offer you the best experience.
The environment you spend the majority of your time in will be an important factor in this process. For instance, someone who is typically spending time in quiet atmospheres would require a different type of hearing aid than a person who frequents busy, loud coffee shops.
In addition to lifestyle, an audiologist will consider the configuration of your hearing loss. If the hearing is relatively equal across the pitch range, you would typically do well with a lower technology hearing aid. However, if the hearing loss is different across the pitch range, a device with higher technology will be a better fit since it can amplify the appropriate pitches.
The type of hearing loss will impact the decision as well. People with mild to moderate hearing loss will benefit differently from hearing technologies than those with profound hearing loss. Those with hearing loss should seek guidance from a healthcare professional before deciding on the level of technology needed.
What Can I Expect If I Decide to See an Audiologist?
An audiologist will spend about an hour with you discussing your lifestyle preferences, your particular hearing loss, and your personal preferences. This information gives the audiologist a starting point to recommend the technology that will suit you best.
To get the process started, your audiologist gets your hearing tested. From there, they'll make decisions around a custom fit for your shape and size ear canal.
They'll recommend the right type of hearing aid and provide you with a hearing aid to wear on a month-long trial basis. During this period you will see your audiologist frequently as they will adjust and fine-tune the device. As you work your way through the trial, your audiologist will gather enough information to be able to explain what you can expect from the hearing aid on a long-term basis.