What to Expect During Your Hearing Aid Evaluation
Hearing is undoubtedly one of the most important senses that human beings possess, providing us the basis for effectively communicating with other human beings. Because it is so taken for granted, the potential impact a hearing loss is often grossly underestimated. That said, A hearing aid is not just another “product,” akin to some household appliance; rather, it is the most important tool available for minimizing the effects of a hearing loss.
Before any specific hearing aid is selected and even before any testing is done, expect to be interviewed by you hearing instrument specialist. He or she will ask about your hearing problems, the situations in which you experience the most difficulty, and about the precipitating factors that brought you to his or her office at this time. During the interview, the hearing instrument specialist will gain insight into the impact of the hearing loss on your personal life (and on your significant other who, hopefully, is also present). People who are working and socially active may have different communication needs than those who are retired.
In addition to the interview, your hearing specialist will ask you to complete one or more questionnaires. These are designed to assess how your view the social and communicative impact of your hearing loss, to focus in on specific areas of hearing difficulty, and to gain insight into your expectations. This information, along the information gathered during your initial interview, will help your hearing instrument specialist decide the type of hearing aids and hearing aid features that may be the most beneficial.
A comprehensive hearing evaluation will be conducted to determine the nature and degree of your hearing loss. In addition to a pure-tone audiogram there are various other potentially useful hearing tests that will likely be considered, including those that assess your ability to understand speech in noise or determining whether there are regions in which the cochlear hair cells are damaged or dead. One important test recommended by the American Speech and Language Association (ASHA) is the measurement of loudness discomfort levels (LDL) on a frequency- by- frequency basis. This test ensures that the hearing aid output does not produce uncomfortably loud sounds. In recommending a specific type of hearing aid, the hearing instrument specialist will consider the results of the audiometric tests, your communication difficulties and needs, cosmetic preferences and your dexterity for physically manipulate tiny controls.
Fitting hearing aids
Once specific devices have been selected you will need to understand the operation of your hearing aids. Your hearing instrument specialist will begin this educational process by ensuring you have demonstrated that you can insert the hearing aids correctly, change the batteries, manipulate the volume control, know when and how to use a telecoil and understand the operation of any special features. Finally, expect to schedule at least one follow-up visit and more as deemed necessary, during your 30-or-60 day hearing aid trial period. Often a number of adjustments are necessary, and questions and observations may arise that need a response from your hearing instrument specialist.