Going to an audiologist to check their hearing is a big step for most people. Doing so is essential, since hearing loss can impair cognitive ability and cause depression. A initial visit with an audiologist will likely consist of a conversation about health history, a physical examination of the inner and outer ears, and tests to determine the levels of hearing. Once the audiologist explains the test results, it’s essential for the patient to ask questions like the ones below.
1. What type of hearing loss is it?
The first question for an audiologist is how they will determine if a hearing loss is present. Conductive hearing loss happens when sound isn’t transferred to the eardrum effectively. Sometimes, this is due to a blockage such as ear wax or a tumor. When the audiologist removes the blockage, the patient can usually hear again.
Sensorineural hearing loss is usually permanent, and doctors often treat it with hearing aids. Sensorineural loss occurs when the inner ear or nerve pathways to the brain are damaged. Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both types of loss.
2. Do both ears have hearing loss?
Studies have shown that the left and right ear hear differently. The left ear receives information from music and emotion, and the right ear receives more speech and logic. Understanding which ear has the most hearing loss can help explain why some people have difficulty with life skills and tasks.
3. Are hearing aids necessary?
Depending on the severity of hearing loss, some people need just one hearing aid, while others need two. About 90 percent of people end up with aids for both ears.
4. What type of hearing aid is best?
There are many types and styles of hearing aids designed for specific types of hearing loss. There are also aids to match lifestyles and needs of patients. The more information a patient provides to their audiologist, the better the recommendation the hearing expert can make. Talk about recreational activities, social situations, and work environments.
5. Are there other costs associated with the hearing aids?
Often, centers include follow-up care in the price of the hearing aids. Be sure to ask the audiologist if this is the case in their office. Aids will need adjustment, repairs, and battery replacements.
6. How often should hearing aids be adjusted?
Sometimes, it takes several adjustments to ensure hearing aids are working optimally. Each hearing center will have its own guidelines, but patients should be sure to ask so they know what to expect.
7. How long will the hearing aids last?
Eventually, hearing aids will wear out, just like most electronic equipment. An audiologist won’t be able to tell you exactly how long a hearing aid will last, but they should be able to provide an estimate of the hearing aid’s lifespan. Ask how to care for the hearing aids, as this will impact their lifespan.
8. Is there a warranty?
Hearing aids come with different warranties. Understanding the warranty can help patients decide whether they need to purchase additional insurance. Often, the devices are protected from loss and theft through a homeowner’s policy.
9. What if I don’t like them?
Patients should ask the audiologist if there is free trial period for hearing aids. Some centers provide a risk-free period to try the aids to ensure that patients are satisfied with them.
10. Will insurance pay for the hearing aids?
Because hearing aids are expensive, ask the audiologist if insurance will cover them. If your plan does not provide coverage, certain people, such as college students or veterans, can sometimes receive benefits elsewhere.
Hearing is vital, but visiting the audiologist can seem overwhelming and confusing. Keep this list of questions handy for that initial visit to ensure the best experience possible.