Having a hearing loss can be frustrating. The last thing you need is more frustration as you try to wade through the misinformation, gimmicks, and sales pitches out there. Here is a secret that will make the whole thing much easier: find the right hearing doctor first. If you get the right hearing doctor, you will get the right hearing aids. So how do you find the right hearing doctor?
Look for credentials
Not all hearing professionals out there are the same. At one end of the spectrum you have Doctors of Audiology who have completed anywhere from 8 to 10 years of college-level study and are board certified. Their specialized education gives them the medical understanding of hearing loss and a deeper understanding of hearing solutions.
At the other end of the spectrum you have those who have completed the minimum amount of schooling (2 years of college) to become Hearing Instrument Specialists.
Needless to say, a Doctor of Audiology is going to give you a more thorough examination and diagnosis. Don’t be afraid to ask for credentials. Your hearing is too precious to trust to a glorified hearing aid salesman. You deserve the expertise of a doctor.
Inquire about the examination
Know what’s involved in a thorough hearing examination. A Doctor of Audiology will:
Conduct an examination of the ear canal for possible blockage of sound.
Perform a tympanic membrane test – tympanometry examines the movement of the eardrum, looking for possible medical interference.
Perform a hearing evaluation in a sound proof booth. This evaluation uses both words and pure tones (beeps) to diagnose specific degrees of possible hearing loss.
Through this process, your doctor can identify any medically related hearing loss that could be treated in other ways. Additionally, it helps inform the type of technology that would best suit your situation.
Understand how they make a recommendation
If test results indicate a need, your doctor will recommend the proper hearing aids for your specific hearing loss, life style, and budget.
Make sure your doctor has options from the 6 major brands – Starkey, Phonak, ReSound, Oticon, Widex, & Siemens. Some places may only offer one brand – this may be good for them, but it may not lead to the best solution for the patient.
Additionally, your doctor should fit the hearing aid, fine tuning it for your unique situation. Some of the tools the doctor should use include:
Live Speech Mapping
Sound-Field Threshold Measurements
COSI or APHAB
Know the questions to ask
It’s easy to get confused when it comes to finding the right solution for your hearing. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to make a sound decision. At the very least, arm yourself with these 5 questions:
1. Do you have an advanced degree in the field? Do you really want to trust your hearing to anything less than a doctor?
2. Can you provide me with references? It’s good to see a track record of successful treatment.
3. What hearing tests are performed and is Live Speech Mapping used? You deserve to know that you’re getting the best evaluation available.
4. Are you local? You want to know that if you ever have a problem, there is somebody in town that can help.
5. Are you manufacturer-owned or a manufacturer franchise (limiting your choice to just one brand of hearing aids)? You want unbiased advice that you’ll find at the objective private practice of a Doctor of Audiology.