A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing a patient who has suffered with hearing loss for many years. Currently, she is experiencing significant difficulty hearing and understanding speech in daily situations. She is especially having difficulty hearing her husband and young grandchildren. Several years ago, she saw an audiologist who professionally fit hearing aids and she did very well. She remarked the hearing aids allowed her to hear conversation and was very satisfied with overall performance. However, those hearing aids stopped working after many years of use and she attempted to replace them with several “over-the-counter” hearing devices purchased from a local pharmacy and the internet. She never did well with those devices and did not receive the same benefit as with her original hearing aids. She became so discouraged and frustrated that she “gave up on hearing aids” and delayed seeking the professional help she needed.
Unfortunately, this scenario is described by many patients. It can be enticing to walk into a pharmacy to purchase a hearing device or click your computer mouse and have it delivered. However, this method does not allow necessary fitting protocols to have the hearing instrument prescriptively fit to specific hearing needs. Inappropriately fit hearing aids will most certainly cause individuals to be unsuccessful with hearing devices. Just like my patient’s experience, this can cause individuals to become so discouraged that they give up on being able to hear better and delay seeking professional services from an audiologist.
I am happy to report my patient decided to try new hearing aids in our office. Once again, she experienced the process of having hearing aids appropriately selected and prescriptively fit for her specific hearing needs. I am proud to report she is doing well and very satisfied with her hearing aids. She thrilled to hear her grandchild’s precious voice and experience easier conversations with her husband.
Hearing loss is more than a frustrated spouse, having to ask someone to repeat what they said, or not hearing your turn-signal blinking. Hearing loss is a chronic health condition that cannot be properly managed by walking into a pharmacy or clicking a mouse to purchase a pre-set hearing device.
Hearing loss is the third most common chronic condition in the United States and is more prevalent than diabetes or cancer. Six major comorbid conditions associated with hearing loss are social isolation and loneliness, depression, balance problems and falls, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia.
Every individual has very specific needs which must be taken into consideration when properly selecting and fitting a hearing aid.
- A complete hearing evaluation is necessary to know degree, configuration, and type of hearing loss. This diagnostic information is necessary to formulate appropriate recommendations.
- A patient may have other symptoms which need to be evaluated and managed. Symptoms such as dizziness, tinnitus, ear wax, ear pain, ear drainage will need additional consideration.
- There are several options available with hearing aids today. There are different styles, levels of technology, rechargeable batteries, and wireless connectivity capabilities (connectivity to cellphone and various accessories) which are important to consider when fitting individual needs.
- Measurements taken with the hearing aid placed in the ear are necessary to ensure calculated setting are meeting prescriptive targets for optimal hearing benefit.
- A hearing aid must fit properly so issues with feedback, retention and comfort are not problematic.
- Follow-up care is necessary to maintain optimal hearing aid performance and patient satisfaction.
I wanted to share this patient’s experience to encourage individuals with hearing loss to seek professional services from an audiologist. Hearing loss is a chronic condition which cannot be appropriately address with an “over-the-counter” pre-package hearing device. Remember, there are many factors to take into consideration when managing hearing loss. An audiologist will ensure you receive complete and continued care of your hearing healthcare needs.
If you are like my patient and have unsuccessfully tried this type of device, there is a better way to better hearing. Just call our office at (814) 941-7770 to schedule your hearing aid consultation and start reconnecting to the voices and sounds you love to listen to.
Amy Greer, Au.D.