Hearing Loss Treatment: Hearing Aids
Today’s hearing aids are not your grandmother’s hearing aids! They are something personal in both form and function.
Hearing Aid Form: Hearing aids can be discreet or stylish. Given the era of wireless cell phone headsets and iPods that we live in, wearing hearing aids doesn’t seem to draw much attention. They’ll just know you’re hearing better!
Hearing Aid Function: Today’s hearing aids are miniature computers, adjusting millions of times a second to give you the best speech signal possible in the listening environments you encounter. The hearing aids are programmed by your audiologist based on your hearing loss profile. Since the computer chip capability is so flexible, your hearing aids can be reprogrammed if your hearing changes in the future. While hearing aid batteries pose less of a threat to the environment than most, models with rechargeable batteries are also available. Finally, hearing aids have entered the era of Bluetooth. You can now wirelessly connect your hearing aids to your cell phone, TV, MP3 player. The options are limitless!
How Do I Start? – The Initial Visit
During your one and a half hour appointment, we will establish your personal hearing profile, or “audiogram.” This is done by testing your ability to hear a variety of speech and environmental sounds. While these tests are conducted in a sound treated room booth, we are keenly aware that you don’t live in a sound treated room booth! That’s why we also conduct “real life” hearing tests, including how you hear conversation in background noise, how you hear soft or distant voices, and how loud is uncomfortably loud. The testing portion of this visit usually takes approximately fifteen to twenty minutes.
Your test results will give the audiologist the diagnostic information needed to develop a treatment plan and determine whether you should see an ear specialist for medical examination. Test results and recommendations will be explained to you and a written report will be sent to your physician if requested.
If fitting of hearing aids is recommended, your audiologist will spend time with you determining what particular style and technology will best meet your hearing needs. This is especially the time when “we listen so you can hear” (our tagline) to ensure that we match the hearing aid options to your particular lifestyle, budget and hearing needs. You may have the opportunity to listen to the latest hearing aid technology. It is important to have a family member or friend at this appointment because a great deal of information is provided to you, you’ll have the opportunity to hear a familiar voice if you listen with some hearing aids, and your audiologist can get a sense of how your hearing loss affects others.
Hearing Aid Fitting:
The fitting appointment takes one hour. Your hearing aids will be analyzed in your ears using a very small microphone to ensure that they are set appropriately for your hearing loss profile. This method, called live speechmapping, has become the “gold standard” of hearing aid fitting validation. Ironically, few dispensing practices routinely employ this technology. You then are instructed in the use and care of the hearing instruments including insertion, removal, adjusting, cleaning and telephone use.
Follow Up Care
Your first follow up appointment takes place approximately two weeks after the fitting. You will be encouraged to ask questions and to provide the audiologist with information about your experiences. This will determine if any adjustments need to be made to the hearing aids in order to optimize your communication experience. Additional appointments are scheduled as needed during the adjustment period to ensure all goals are met.
Long Term Care
After your fitting has stabilized, we will remind you every four to six months to return for routine hearing aid maintenance. It is critical that your hearing aids be professionally cleaned in order to ensure they continue to function properly and to minimize the risk of costly manufacturer repairs. These services are complimentary with most warranty plans we offer. If you think about the agents hearing aids are exposed to (dust, perspiration, smog, rain, earwax, hair and skin oils, hairspray, etc), it’s amazing they hold up as well as they do! Can you imagine a computer surviving in such a hostile environment twelve to sixteen hours a day?