If you’ve reached the point where you think you may need to consider a hearing aid, you may be 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 doctoral level hearing specialist that can give you the right guidance when it comes to choosing a hearing aid.
What Defines a Hearing Aid?
You may see advertisements for hearing devices at very low costs but these are usually amplification devices, which are 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 need. 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, and the more technologically advanced models provide more separation from speech and other environmental sound.
What Technology Level of Hearing Aid Do I Need?
An audiologist 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 environments 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 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.
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 will 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.