Hearing loss is detrimental to both physical and emotional wellbeing. Untreated hearing loss has been shown to cause anxiety, difficulty working, paranoia, depression and more. Knowing what questions to ask your hearing care professional can seem overwhelming when you are already dealing with the frustration of a hearing loss diagnosis.
Here Are Some Of The Most Common Questions Asked During A Visit To A Hearing Health Specialist.
How Do You Check For Hearing Loss?
Diagnosing hearing loss may start with your primary healthcare provider, who will perform a physical exam by looking into your ear. Your provider will look for possible causes, such as signs of an infection or ear wax buildup, and also any structural causes.
General screening tests and simple tuning fork tests may be performed. A tuning fork is a two-pronged, metal instrument that produces sound when struck. This test may indicate whether hearing loss is caused by damage to the vibrating parts of your middle ear and eardrum, or damage to inner ear nerves, or damage to both. Your provider may refer you to an Audiologist or Hearing Instrument Specialist who will perform more thorough testing.
Who Are Hearing Care Professionals?
There are two kinds of hearing care professionals, Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Specialist. Audiologists are doctorate, licensed, healthcare professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage hearing loss and balance disorders in both adults and children. Hearing Instrument Specialists work alongside Audiologists and are trained in prescribing and fitting hearing aids. Both Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Specialists can determine the type of your hearing loss and the degree.
How Do I Understand The Hearing Test?
The hearing care specialist can describe the test results to you and help you consider if a hearing amplification device, such as a hearing aid, is needed. Some Hearing Instrument Specialists and Audiologists also may sell and offer hearing aid fitting services right in the office.
How Often Should I Be Tested?
Your hearing health provider will determine this based on your test results, type of hearing loss and whether hearing aids are needed. The amount of testing varies by patient.
What Kind Of Hearing Loss Do I Have?
Knowing the type of hearing loss helps determine which treatment you need, as well as how to protect your hearing going forward. There are three main types of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural hearing loss: The most common type of hearing loss, this is a problem with either the tiny hairs that convert sound waves to electricity, or with the nerve that transmits those electrical impulses to the brain
- Conductive hearing loss: This type of hearing loss is a problem conducting sound waves from the environment to the inner ear
- Mixed hearing loss: In mixed hearing loss, elements of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss are present
How Much Hearing Loss Do I Have?
The results from your hearing test are displayed on an audiogram, a graph that shows the softest sounds a person can hear at different pitches or frequencies and is measured in decibels (dBs). Audiologists (AuD) and Hearing Instrument Specialists (HIS) use general terms (normal, mild, moderate, severe and profound) to classify the degree of hearing loss. The audiogram indicates these different degrees of hearing loss.
Is My Hearing Loss Permanent?
Sensorineural hearing loss, which is due to aging and noise exposure, is permanent because the small hair cells in the inner ear are damaged and there is no way to repair them. This type of hearing loss is the most common type. Some permanent hearing loss may be congenital (present at birth) or due to damage caused by infection.
What Caused My Hearing Loss?
Although some people are born with hearing loss, most people experience progressive permanent hearing loss later in life due to aging and daily noise exposure (sensorineural hearing loss). Other common causes of acquired hearing loss include genetic predisposition, ear infections (scarring), ototoxic medicines, head trauma and more.
Can You Tell Me If My Hearing Loss Will Change Or Get Worse?
Aging and noise exposure can make hearing loss worse; however, there are simple preventive measures you can take to guard your hearing. Your hearing health provider will discuss your specific situation with you and provide additional information.
Do Both Ears Have The Same Hearing Loss?
Just like your right eye might have a different prescription than your left, the same principle applies to hearing loss. One ear might have more hearing loss than the other, and each ear hears differently than the other. The right ear affects your reasoning abilities, logic and speech. Your left ear affects receiving music information, intuition and emotion.
Do I Need Hearing Aids?
Severe hearing loss requires hearing aids in order to hear and discern speech. Without them, most conversation and use of telephones will be extremely difficult. Profound hearing loss causes an inability to hear speech, even if spoken loudly. People with profound hearing loss need hearing aids or cochlear implants. Your hearing professional will discuss your test results with you and the recommended course of treatment.
You may experience more hearing loss in one ear. In some cases, a hearing aid may not be required for both ears. However, according to the Better Hearing Institute, about 90% of patients do need hearing aids for both ears, so it is still more likely you will need both.
What Kind Of Hearing Aids Would Work Best For Me?
The more information you can provide your hearing specialist about your lifestyle, the better they can help you choose the right kind of aid that fits both your type of hearing loss and your daily activities. You may want to list your daily, weekly, and monthly activities, including recreational and social habits, and your work environment.
How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost?
The cost of hearing aids range widely. Note that your hearing aid cost may cover much more than the devices themselves, such as your hearing test, consultation, fitting, follow-up visits and adjustments, cleanings and warranty. One of the main contributors to cost is the sophisticated level of technology and the features. Ask about all available options as the prices will differ and you may not want or need all the features included with a more expensive model.
Are There Additional Costs Besides The Hearing Aids?
Typically, follow-up care is included in the cost of your hearing aid purchase. Some providers include adjustments, repairs and batteries. This is a good question to ask up front as it may impact your choice of hearing center or provider.
Will Hearing Aids Be Covered By Insurance?
Not all insurance plans cover the cost of hearing aids. You may want to speak with your insurance provider before meeting with your hearing care professional to find out if hearing aids are covered under your plan, and if not, what payment options are available.
How Long Will My Hearing Aids Last? Do They Wear Out?
Although hearing aids typically last around five years. This can help spur conversation a conversation with your hearing care provider on how you need to best care for your hearing aids to make them last as long as possible.
Do The Hearing Aids Have A Warranty?
Different manufacturers offer different warranties. Depending on the warranty, you may wish to purchase additional insurance or call your insurance company to be sure they are covered from loss or theft on your homeowner’s policy.
How Often Do You Need To Check Or Adjust The Hearing Aids?
A few check-ups may be needed to adjust your hearing aids to best tailor them to your needs. Each hearing center and each case will be different based on the patient.
We hope these questions address some of your concerns. Please feel free to reach out to us at Wise Hearing to answer any more of your hearing health questions.