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Uh Oh, I Think I have Hearing Loss. Now What?

 

When you bought your first home, you probably didn’t rush into the decision. You probably asked friends, family, co-workers for advice, and maybe even read newspaper and internet articles, and did as much research as you could. But ultimately, when it came down to make a decision, you still had to rely (to some extent) on your Realtor and your mortgage broker for information you don’t know.

This works the same for your Audiologist. Audiologists go to school for 6-8 years to earn a Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree (State Licensing Boards require new graduates to obtain a minimum of a Doctorate degree) to become experts in the field of hearing (and balance disorders). Before you start the process of obtaining hearing aids, you should do your homework and find a qualified audiologist so that you can have a proper audiologic evaluation. This evaluation includes a minimum of tympanometry for middle ear function, pure-tone air/bone conduction testing to determine hearing sensitivity, and retro-cochlear screening to rule out potentially serious medical conditions that can cause hearing loss.

Once this is done, and your hearing loss is determined to be a non-medically treatable form of hearing loss, then you can begin the process of aural rehabilitation. This typically will include discussing your test results and potential functional abilities with and without hearing aids. An audiologist may then recommend lip-reading courses, auditory training, or offer other communication strategies to maximize your potential.

In addition, often times patients will require hearing aids. This is normally the time when my patient’s eyes get as large as quarters. Many people are surprised when I inform them with the diagnosis of hearing loss. Sometimes they aren’t surprised because of how much difficulty they are having. But either way, recommending hearing aids is always a shock. Yes, no one wants hearing aids, but if your audiologist is recommending it, it’s probably because you need them to get your (insert wife, husband, children, etc.) to stop asking you to say “what” all the time and turn the TV down.

Wherever you are in the process, just know that you are not alone. In fact, they say that the average person waits seven years or longer than they should before they consider hearing aids. So get started with the process. What have you got to lose?

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