WHICH STYLE BEST SUITS YOU AND YOUR HEARING LOSS?

As we have discussed in previous articles, there are many factors that go into investing in hearing aids.  Our priority, first and foremost, is basing technology and components inside the units on your lifestyle to ensure they are doing their job for the life you want to live.  It should not be based on what the hearing aid looks like.  With that being said, there are many different styles of hearing aids.  The range of style options allows hearing care professionals to work with the wants and needs of each patient; however,....

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HEARING VERSUS UNDERSTANDING

Too often, the process in which we hear is overlooked.  As a hearing care professional, it is crucial for patients to recognize how our ears and brain work in order to understand the process in which we hear vs. how we understand.  I have worked with many patients and feel that the most successful have a clear understanding of these differences which provides realistic expectations during the hearing aid process.

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MEDICAL CAUSES OF HEARING LOSS

Did you know your health could be negatively affecting your hearing? It’s true!  Hearing loss is associated with a number of different health problems ranging from hypertension to heart health. Today’s article is not to scare you, rather to inform you, and a lot of information will be hard. Working with your primary care physician or another certified healthcare professional can go a long way, especially when we are talking about medical causes for hearing loss.

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COMMON MISTAKES WHEN CHOOSING A HEARING AID

With all of the advertisements and promises from hearing care providers and hearing aid manufacturers, many individuals experience much confusion when it comes to deciding what hearing aid is best for them. In my years as a practicing Audiologist I have seen patients love their hearing aids, some hate them and some feel like they wasted their money. What I want most is for my patient to never experience discontent when choosing the appropriate hearing aid so here are some common mistakes to avoid when making that selection:


1. Basing a decision on looks rather than what you need the hearing aid to do


If we are being honest, no one wants a hearing aid. The reason many finally seek a hearing aid for help is to improve their communication issues and relationships. Food for thought: if you or someone you know has hearing loss, suggest they make of list of the most important issues they want resolved. Not only will it help direct the investment in a way that is meaningful for the lifestyle, it will also help set up realistic expectations for those involved which in turn creates greater benefit!


2. Letting the investment take precedent over the benefit


It’s what’s on the inside that counts! We have heard that time and time

again and the same is true with hearing aids. What the hearing aid looks like on the outside does not fully dictate how much benefit will be provided. Digital hearing aids have many programs internally to provide the most benefit in many situations and many will automatically adjust according whether you need more or less volume, speaking with men or women or are in quiet vs noise. The important thing to remember is that two hearing aids that look exactly the same on the outside can work extremely different internally.


Another note to consider is the professional fees and expertise included in the investment. Ever heard the saying, “you get what you pay for”? The better the technology and the more knowledge the hearing care professional, the more the investment will be. That also means the better the end results will be. While not everyone needs premium technology; everyone can benefit from having a knowledgeable and experienced professional helping them in the decision making and fitting process.


3. Believing that immediately after the hearing aids are put on, all problems and issues will be resolved

For most types of hearing loss, there was a gradual decline in hearing capabilities. It is common knowledge that hearing loss declines for approximately seven years before an individual will begin to seek help. During that time, the gradual decline begins to affect how the brain recognizes sounds and understanding. Just as it took time for the hearing loss to become apparent enough to seek help, it will take time for the brain to adjust to that stimulation again.


Think of hearing aids like the first time you were learning to drive a car. Just because the car was there, didn’t mean you knew how to work it. Driving might have started off in the neighborhood only, then moving to more populated streets and even the highway once you were comfortable. It’s a process and it takes time. But after hours and weeks of practice, it eventually became second nature and you passed your driving test. The same is true with hearing aids. Your brain needs weeks to acclimate to the increased volume it hasn’t been used to hearing. The key to success - consistently wear the hearing aids!


4. Only having an appointment for the fitting and not having any follow-up care


Obtaining hearing aids is a process. The fitting appointment, where you take the hearing aids, home is very important. However, in my opinion, the appointments that follow are more important. The settings the hearing aids are originally prescribed at are not likely to be where they will stay; they are merely a starting point. Follow-up appointments should include verification to ensure the units are performing as they promise. It also allows changes to be made as the brain acclimates and adjusts to the new information. The process of adjustment can take anywhere from two weeks to two months on average; which means the appointments taking place during that time are crucial for the hearing aid users overall success.


I say all of that to say the biggest mistake people make is buying a hearing aid instead of buying better hearing. Here’s another analogy: when someone goes car shopping, they go with a specific need for the vehicle they want, whether it’s hauling kids to and from soccer practice, using it as a work vehicle or wanting something to take road trips in. People know what they want the vehicle for and then they narrow down which vehicle will actually do the job at hand. So why is it so different with hearing aids? Before you start looking at the size or brand of hearing aids, figure out what you want them to help with. Do you struggle communicating with the family, hearing at church, speaking to a physician? Can you hear okay on the telephone or when watching the television? What about restaurants? Are you still a part of the conversation, or do you find that you are sitting back and laughing when others laugh? Once you know why you want to pursue hearing aids, let the guidance of a well-trained professional help you narrow down your options.

DR. BREWER

Dr. Brewer completed her Doctor of Audiology degree at the University of Louisville’s School of Medicine and her undergraduate degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Miami University in Oxford, OH. She is licensed by the state of Kentucky as an audiologist and hearing instrument specialist. She is also a member of the American Academy of Audiology, Academy of Doctors of Audiology, Kentucky Academy of Audiology and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.  

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