Aids > Considerations
An audiologist is a non-physician health care professional who specializes in identifying, diagnosing, treating, and monitoring auditory and vestibular disorders. These specialists are generally well versed in hearing aid technology and can provide extensive insights on the range of device options for an individual’s particular hearing impairment. In addition, an audiologist can help to determine whether one or two hearing aids would work best, as the extent of hearing loss can differ significantly between the two ears.
Once a hearing aid model has been selected, an audiologist can help with fitting the hearing aid. This is important, as a poor fit can lead to a range of problems, including noise, whistling, feedback, and ear tissue irritation. For ITC, CIC, and IIC hearing aids that extend into the ear, the audiologist will take an impression of the ear canal to ensure a correct fit.
As with any specialist, care should be taken in selecting an audiologist. A quality specialist will hold a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree from a reputable institution and have an affiliation with a respected medical facility or practice. Caution should be exercised with audiologists who work for a hearing aid retailer or who only recommend one brand of hearing aids. Many consumers rely on referrals from trusted physicians to help them locate an audiologist.
When the time comes to purchasing a hearing aid, consumers should always ask for a trial period, also referred to as an adaptation period. It will generally take time to become accustomed to a new device, even for individuals who have worn hearing aids in the past. Over a period of several weeks, the consumer can determine whether the hearing aid is providing the expected level of comfort and functionality.
Another benefit of a trial period is the opportunity to experience the hearing aid’s performance across a range of listening environments.
Trying the instrument at the audiologist’s office or in a retail store does not provide sufficient information, as these locations are quiet, indoor settings. Over the course of the trial period, consumers should seek to visit many different locations in order to better understand the hearing instrument’s functionality. It is also important to learn the instrument’s controls and capabilities, so that the appropriate channels and settings can be used for each type of listening environment.
A trial period is generally not free. For this reason, consumers should ask for the cost of the trial to be clearly spelled out upfront. Consumers should also ask that this cost be credited toward the price of the hearing aid, so that if they decide to make the purchase, any extra expense is avoided. In some cases, the trial period may represent a separate, standalone cost. This may still be warranted as it is better for a consumer to spend a smaller amount to discover whether a particular hearing aid is suitable to his or her needs than to pay the entire price of the hearing aid only to find out soon thereafter that it is not the right solution.
A potential pitfall when it comes to life-enhancing devices such as hearing aids is the consumer’s psychological predisposition to believing outsized promises. Although it may not be easy, it is nevertheless critical to remember that a hearing aid can neither restore normal hearing nor successfully filter out all background noise. Prudence should be exercised with audiologists or salespersons making overly optimistic claims, as they may be either misinformed or, otherwise, willing to misrepresent the facts to benefit a sales agenda.
It bears emphasizing that breaking in a new hearing aid is a process that takes time. Particularly in the case of individuals who have never before worn hearing aids, adjusting to amplification is a gradual progression. Even the internal sound of one’s own voice sounds different with a hearing aid. However, the more often a consumer uses a new hearing aid, the quicker he or she will adjust and, assuming the hearing aid is appropriately selected and fitted, the sooner he or she begin to enjoy the benefits of amplified sound.
Without a doubt, hearing aids offer a number of positive and life-enhancing attributes for the user. Most directly, hearing aids empower an individual suffering from hearing impairment to detect sounds that would otherwise be inaudible. With the help of these devices, a person can take part in conversations, attend performances, watch television, and listen to music without requiring extreme amplification or closed captioning. Because they do not represent a surgical solution, hearing aids can be easily controlled, removed, and replaced by the user. As new and better models become available, the user can simply purchase the improved model, with no more difficulty than getting a new pair of eyeglasses.
In addition, when viewed on the full spectrum of health problems and solutions, hearing aids are relatively affordable. A quality hearing aid can be acquired for the same price as a high-end television set or top-of-the-line laptop. After purchase and fitting, the cost of upkeep is generally limited to batteries and a cleaning kit.
However, in addition to their advantages, hearing aids also have a number of limitations. Most importantly, they do not correct or improve the user’s actual hearing, but rather provide an aid to make sounds more accessible. As a result, hearing aids do not retard the progression of hearing loss. They ameliorate the symptom, but they do not address the root cause of the problem.
In the case of sensorineural hearing loss, the individual loses not only the ability to hear particular sounds, but also the ability to discriminate between certain sounds, which can make it difficult to hear speech. In such a situation, simply amplifying the spoken sound to make it louder may be insufficient to make the words accessible to the user. Certain more advanced hearing aids can try to compensate by reducing background noise and filtering speech, but they still remain, first and foremost, amplification devices.
Hearing aids can also lead to discomfort if the user is exposed to a loud noise or if the device is fitted improperly or experiences a malfunction. In some cases, a user may experience soreness or irritation of the skin inside the ear. Improper cleaning of the device can lead to painful whistling and feedback, as well as ear infections.
The bottom line is that hearing aids are not a panacea, but if carefully selected, properly fitted, and conscientiously cared for, a hearing aid can be a valuable device that enables hearing impaired individuals to participate more fully in the life taking place around them.
These are the key considerations associated with hearing aids. Please explore other topics available on our site. In the meantime, if this information has been helpful to you, we would greatly appreciate it if you would support us by recommending our site to other users on Google. You can do so by simply clicking this button: