The first step should be to confirm your (or perhaps your partners?) suspicions and get a hearing test. An audiological evaluation should consist of behavioral testing in a calibrated sound booth, both with tones and recorded speech. It’s important to have a doctor test your hearing so they can appropriately interpret the results and determine if further testing is necessary.

Following the testing, your doctor will discuss the results with you. At our clinic we like to explain not only the hearing loss, but how it might impact day to day life in different areas of communication. Your audiologist may also suggest intervention, such as hearing aids.

Well, my friend Jim loves his hearing aids. My friend Megan doesn’t.

Let’s talk about this. Megan and Jim both have hearing loss, and both have hearing aids. Megan does not like her hearing aids, while Jim loves his. Perhaps Megan can hear herself breathing all the time, or her own voice is too loud. Maybe Megan says everything is too loud and speech is not clear.

There are a multitude of issues to be had, and just as many reasons why Megan might be having them. She might not be wearing an appropriate style for her hearing loss or might be wearing an incorrect earpiece. Her devices may not be appropriately programmed. It is also possible that Megan is sensitive to sound and cannot handle certain ranges of acoustic stimuli. It’s important to involve an audiologist in order to start the fitting process off on the right foot. An audiologist is a valuable yet often underutilized resource who can advise patients on the many decisions that have to be made when getting hearing devices.

Say your friends Megan and Jim both have very similar hearing test results. They are wearing the same style of hearing aid that’s appropriate for their type of loss with a good physical fit. However, they need completely different programming. This is because hearing is widely subjective. The same recorded material that sounds perfectly clear when presented to Jim may sound garbled to Megan with the same programming in their hearing aids.

Please recommend to Megan that she see an audiologist. Nearly all issues can be resolved, and why not involve someone who has their doctorate in the subject?

So, what kind of hearing aid is right for me?

There are two major divisions of hearing aids: the style with the processor that sits behind your ear, and the style that is completely in the canal. The best way to determine which is right for you is to consult an audiologist. They will be able to give you options, including pros and cons of each type, as well as information you may not consider otherwise.

What’s the difference between your lowest priced hearing aid and your most expensive one?

The style of the hearing aid does not dictate price. However, the technology within does. Typically, as the hearing aid price goes up the level of technology does as well. Level of technology affects two major things: the sound quality of the hearing aid (how natural sound is to the listener) and how well the hearing aid handles background noise. An audiologist will be able to help you determine what technology level is right for you based on your lifestyle and budget.

Do I REALLY need hearing aids?

I mean, if the audiologist advised you that you do, you probably do. However, the chances of a hearing aid user having success is largely dependent on if they are ready to do something about their hearing loss. If you aren’t ready for hearing aids now, it is important to protect your hearing and get regular hearing screenings to make sure that your hearing is not getting worse. Cognitive health and hearing health are linked, so if intervention is needed and is being disregarded, then it is possible to have a negative effect on cognitive ability. Therefore, cognitive screenings may also be recommended.

The health of your relationships is also an important aspect to consider. Hearing loss is something that impacts not only you, but those around you. It’s challenging also in that hearing loss cannot be seen, so our communication partners often neglect proper communication techniques and strategies. Some examples of this would be trying to talk to someone while in a different room from them, or while walking away from them. It’s important for people with lesser hearing sensitivity to be able to see your face. However, communication is a two-player game. If they are doing their part, it’s important to receive appropriate intervention if you have a hearing loss.

So, to answer the very first question you had, if you think you have a hearing loss reach out to an audiologist! They were trained to help you in your journey to better hearing and would be only too happy to do so.