The Hearing Aid Process
On average an individual with gradual, progressive hearing loss will wait approximately 7 years after noting difficulties before seeking help. While a gradual hearing loss may not require the same swift response as chest pain or a broken leg, 7 years is way too long to wait to address hearing and communication issues. Hearing takes place in the brain, and improving auditory stimulation sooner rather than later can improve overall outcomes for hearing help options. In this article, we will look at the “hearing aid process” of a typical patient who may be pursuing hearing help options.
The Initial Appointment to Learn About Hearing Aids
Once a patient has decided to seek help for hearing loss there are two basic options for getting an appointment set up: Self-referral to an Audiologist or medical referral through a primary care physician/specialists. If hearing loss is the only complaint, a self-referral directly to an audiologist can save time and multiple office visits. An audiologist should always complete a comprehensive evaluation and be able to refer to a primary care physician or specialists if needed.
At the initial visit, the audiologist will ask general health-related question and get information about specific communicative concerns, complete a comprehensive hearing evaluation to look into a potential hearing loss, and counsel the patient about the results and offer recommendations for hearing help options. If hearing aids are recommended and the patient is wanting to move forward with help, the hearing aids will be ordered and a hearing aid fitting appointment will be set up.
The Hearing Aid Fitting Appointment
Typically, the hearing aid fitting appointment is scheduled about 1 week after the initial visit. At the fitting the audiologist will set up the hearing aids according to the patient’s hearing loss and make sure everything is comfortable. Several tests will be run to assure the hearing aids will not experience feedback and that they are fit appropriately for the hearing loss. After everything is set for the initial programing of the hearing aids the audiologist will go over care and maintenance of the hearing aids with the patient as well as all the contract and warranty information. After the fitting appointment, a 1-2 week follow-up appointment is usually setup.
Follow-up care for Hearing Aids
During the first month following the fitting appointment it is common to have several follow-up appointments to make adjustments to the hearing aids based on the patient’s specific needs and to move through the adaptation process as their brain adjusts to the new way of hearing. Once the hearing aids are set properly and the patient is doing well, most audiologists will continue follow up care every 4-6 months to check in with the patient and provide preventative maintenance for the hearing aids. It is also common to re-test a patient’s hearing every 1-2 years or if any major changes are noted. If hearing changes over time most hearing aids are able to be reprogrammed to compensate for the decrease in hearing. The average life expectancy for a pair of hearing aids is 5-7 years.
If you or a loved one have noticed increased difficulties in communication or a reduction in hearing, Call ENT Audiology Center at (325) 437-3617 to set up your comprehensive hearing evaluation. ENT Audiology Center, “Helping You Hear Better So You Can Live Life Better”.