Important Questions to Ask Your Hearing Aid Provider
- 1 Which type of hearing loss do I have?
- 2 What are the different types and styles of hearing aids?
- 3 Do I need a hearing aid for both ears?
- 4 What can I do if I don’t want to wear hearing aids?
- 5 Are there any additional costs after I have purchased the hearing aids?
- 6 How often do you need to adjust my hearing aids or check my hearing?
- 7 How long do hearing aids last?
- 8 What type of warranty is available for these hearing devices?
- 9 Are there other forms of technology I should use alongside hearing aids?
- 10 How will a hearing aid improve my quality of life?
Noticing that you’re losing your hearing can be a shock to the system. You may be starting to worry that you won’t be able to communicate in the ways you’ve always done before. You might start to find things difficult that, up until now, you’ve taken for granted.
People react to noticing a hearing loss in a range of ways. Some like to research information to find out as much as possible while others may feel vulnerable, worried or angry and not want to talk about it or admit it.
The good news is that there are lots of practical steps you can take to get a better understanding of what is happening to you. On average, people wait 7 years before they reach out to a professional for the help that they deserve to treat their hearing loss.
Making an appointment for a hearing assessment can be a little daunting, but once you know your level of hearing you have the opportunity and information to improve your quality of life, and to prevent any further hearing degradation. Click here to book a free hearing test now.
It may be beneficial to take a friend or relative along to the appointment with you. There is often a lot of new information given at these appointments, so having an extra set of ears can ensure you take away as much knowledge as possible, it may also help to put you at ease.
Typically, a clinic will offer a short test for people who are unsure whether they have a hearing loss. This usually only takes 15 minutes and will determine whether a full test is necessary.
A full hearing test is typically made up of three parts:
- A conversation about your medical history – including factors that aren’t related to your ears which can have an impact on hearing.
- A physical examination of your inner and outer ear.
- A series of tests which will determine your levels of hearing and speech comprehension.
If a hearing aid is recommended, your audiologist or audiometrist should then:
- Explain the results of your hearing test (also known as an audiogram)
- Explain the benefits and limitations of different types of hearing aids
- Give you a detailed quote
- Agree to a trial period of at least 30 days
- Outline a plan for how to get the most out of your hearing aid, how to best adjust to wearing them, and any future appointments that will be necessary.
Here is a list of questions to consider asking and why they are important to know.
Which type of hearing loss do I have?
There are three types of hearing loss, and they are all treated in different ways.
Sensorineural hearing loss – this is usually caused by damage to the hair cells in your inner ear, or to the nerve pathways that lead from the inner ear to the brain. The two biggest causes are excessive exposure to loud noise and age. It is the most common type of hearing loss and is typically treated by air conduction hearing aids.
Conductive hearing loss – this affects the passage of sound between the ear canal and the inner ear. It is caused by some kind of physical interference that prevents the proper transmission of sound waves. This could be an obstruction or damage, and may only be temporary and treated with medication. If it is permanent, bone conduction hearing aids may help.
Mixed hearing loss – This is caused by a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss issues and is very uncommon, although it can happen when the ear sustains some trauma. This type of hearing loss usually requires multiple forms of treatment as the sensorineural loss is most likely permanent, while the conductive hearing loss may be temporary or permanent.
Once you have a diagnosis of which hearing loss you have, your audiologist or audiometrist can explain the features of the treatments that are available to you, so you can make an informed decision about which option is right for you.
What are the different types and styles of hearing aids?
These days, there are multiple types and styles of hearing aids available, each with different strengths and weaknesses depending on the level of hearing loss, aesthetic preferences, lifestyle needs, and budget. The majority of them are stylish, sleek and customisable to any degree of hearing loss.
Your audiologist or audiometrist will explain the features of some models of hearing aids that are suitable for your hearing loss.
For sensorineural hearing loss, these are the standard models that are available.
(graph like the one shown in google doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1d_fiOAJB84TefGhlSSlWGKSOnoShGJ4Zh7m-5gIEZio/edit?usp=sharing)
For conductive hearing loss, a bone conduction hearing aid or a bone anchored hearing aid is typically needed. These consist of an audio processor which is either pressed against the skull or attached to a surgically implanted abutment or magnet in the temporal bone. These aids create vibrations that are sent across the skull to the inner ear, directly stimulating the cochlea where these vibrations are perceived as sound.
There are also cochlear implants and assistive listening devices available, your audiologist or audiometrist will be able to provide more information on these if they are determined to suit your level and type of hearing loss.
Do I need a hearing aid for both ears?
Typically, people have a different degree of hearing in each ear. Binaural (or two-ear hearing) is better than one. If you only have a hearing loss in one ear, you may be able to get away with just wearing one hearing aid. If there is a loss in both ears, a binaural solution will most probably benefit you more.
Around two-thirds of new hearing aid users opt for dual hearing aids, and they report a higher level of satisfaction than those that go with a single hearing aid.
What can I do if I don’t want to wear hearing aids?
Your hearing healthcare provider will guide you on how to use your aids if they have been recommended. If you decide not to wear aids right away, they will most likely give you some general advice about avoiding exposure to loud noise.
Only you know how your hearing loss is affecting you. If you are not ready to make the change to wearing hearing aids yet, it is essential to keep close attention on your hearing loss to prevent it from worsening. It is possible for the hearing loss to progress if left untreated, as the brain gets used to receiving sounds at a diminished volume and ‘forgets’ what the regular volume input should be. People who wait too long may find it difficult to understand speech, and have to readjust when hearing aids are fitted.
Speaking to an audiologist or audiometrist can help to put your mind at ease if you are worried about trying hearing aids.
Are there any additional costs after I have purchased the hearing aids?
Most hearing centres include follow up care in the purchase price of your hearing devices. This may include adjustments, repairs and check-ups. Some centres may not, so it is important to ask so you know exactly what you need to budget for in the future.
Batteries will be a future cost, the most common type of hearing aid battery is the zinc-air button battery. They can be purchased in:
- Online retailers
- Electronic stores
- From your audiologist or hearing specialist
There are now rechargeable hearing aids on the market, Starkey has released a Silver-Zinc battery that gives you 24 hours of power on a 4-hour charge and will last about one year. One benefit of this battery is that you can easily swap it out with a regular disposable zinc-air battery if you forget to charge it.
Speak to your audiologist or audiometrist if you think rechargeable aids will fit into your lifestyle.
How often do you need to adjust my hearing aids or check my hearing?
When a hearing loss has been identified, you will need to return for a check-up in the future. Your audiologist or audiometrist will want to monitor your hearing, to make sure it doesn’t get any worse and to make sure you are reacting well to your treatment.
Your aids themselves may also need some reprogramming and fine tuning so you will be expected to return so that your aids can be checked and adjusted. It may take a few adjustments until your aids are optimally performing for your hearing loss.
Each hearing centre will have a different idea of what the best follow up care looks like, so ask your audiologist or audiometrist when you are expected to return and how often, before you leave.
How long do hearing aids last?
Hearing aids typically tend to last from three to five years, and knowing how to care for them is essential to maximising their performance and lifespan. Like any piece of technology, however, they need a little care and maintenance to sustain their performance and longevity for as long as possible.
Sometimes it may be necessary to send your device away for repair. Ask your audiologist or audiometrist what to do in this case. You should always seek out a reputable repair specialist to work on your hearing aid as it can alter your warranty if you don’t.
See our article ‘How to Maintain your Hearing Aid.’ < Link to
What type of warranty is available for these hearing devices?
Various hearing clinics and hearing aid manufacturers offer separate warranties for their products. Knowing the warranty basics will help you determine whether you need additional insurance, and give you the facts to see if you can add them to your homeowners’ policy.
Are there other forms of technology I should use alongside hearing aids?
It is important to discuss this with your hearing healthcare provider, especially if your hearing loss prevents you from hearing signals and alarms like weather warnings or fire alarms.
Most hearing aids are compatible with assistive listening devices, telecoils and neck loops.
How will a hearing aid improve my quality of life?
Hearing aids can help you to reconnect with the world around you. Hearing loss can cause people to withdraw from social situations and to stop doing things that they enjoy, sometimes causing emotional issues like depression and anxiety as they feel isolated. So, by allowing sounds back into your world, you can get back to doing what you love.
Discussing this with an audiologist or audiometrist may be the push that you need to go for hearing aids.
Other questions that may be specific to you:
- How much will my hearing aids cost?
- Do you accept my insurance provider?
- Should I make any changes to my lifestyle?
- Is it still safe for me to drive?
- What is the best way to contact you if I have any questions?
- Is there anything else I need to know today?
Your audiologist or audiometrist are there to help you live with your hearing loss as comfortably as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask any other questions that may come to mind.
A hearing healthcare practitioner will endeavour to find the perfect model for your lifestyle and needs, and give you all the information necessary for you to adapt to this change. So don’t put it off any longer and click here to book a free hearing test now.
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