Hearing Aid Consultation and Dispensing
The first step in determining what will help you hear better is our comprehensive interview regarding your hearing history. You will be asked about when you, or loved ones, first noticed your hearing problem; if you were exposed to noise or medications or had an injury that may have lead to hearing loss; if there is a family tendency to lose hearing; if there are other symptoms that may arise from the ear such as ringing, pressure, pain, dizziness or intolerance to louder sounds. A questionnaire will let you rank the demands you put on your hearing and list the situations in which you find yourself struggling to hear. We will ask you about your priorities in addressing your hearing loss, e.g. the number one person you need to hear better, the places in which you need function better, your hearing on the phone, in a car, for TV, at meetings, restaurants, etc.
A Very Good Idea
We suggest that a friend or loved one accompany you to the evaluation. Often, our own perceptions of how we hear are very different from the way others see us functioning. Hearing loss can affect our loved ones as much as it affects us. We welcome their input, and we suggest that they be included in the up-front work as well as the treatment plan.
Otoscopic Examination of the Ears
We will look in your ears to see if wax (cerumen) or infection is apparent. If we are not able to see the eardrum, we cannot do a hearing evaluation. If we are able to remove the wax, we will get your consent and remove it carefully with a small tool called a curette. If we are not able to safely remove it, we will refer you to a physician who can remove the wax using irrigation. You will return to us right after that appointment, even the same day, for the hearing test and consultation.
The Hearing Evaluation
The next step is the hearing test. The results of your hearing evaluation will provide our audiologists with data describing the range of sounds you are able to hear well and those that are not audible. We will review the test results with you and relate them to the hearing problems you experience in life to give you a foundation for understanding what is at issue and how we will remedy the problems.
We will determine if the hearing loss can be improved medically, and if so, we will refer you to a physician for treatment before discussing hearing aids. Our audiologists use best practices and a number of tests to determine if you have a medically-treatable condition. Most hearing losses cannot be corrected with medical treatment, but you are always welcome to seek consultation by a physician prior to proceeding. State law requires that children under 18 have a current medical clearance on file before being fit with a hearing aid. If you hearing loss is not amenable to medical treatment, we will proceed to a discussion of hearing aids and treatment plans.
There are many factors that contribute to a successful outcome in hearing care. The most important part of the hearing aid evaluation for us to understand your situation and needs. Our recommendations will be based on the results of your hearing tests and your description of your hearing problems in your day-to-day life. We consider your lifestyle demands, your budget and your manual dexterity. We all must be comfortable with the way we present ourselves in public, so we will take into account your preferences as to how the hearing aids will look. We discuss the pros and cons of several options, and we will recommend hearing aids that address all your needs. The hearing aids we choose together must often be ordered from the manufacturer and will be ready for dispensing a few days after your first visit.
When you get your hearing aids
It takes about an hour for us to program and dispense your hearing devices using our advanced software. We use your hearing test results and create amplification settings for different environments. As the environment changes around you, the hearing aids adjust automatically to optimize their performance. After we insert the aids in your ears, you will listen to a variety of sounds including speech in quiet and with background noise. We can make a wide range of adjustments to the hearing aids while they are in your ears using wireless connections to our computer systems.
First-time users may need less amplification on day one than at 15 or 30 days post-fitting. We often raise the amount of amplification you use over a period of days or weeks to ease you back into all the sounds of life. We counsel you about how to insert and care for the aids, and how to change batteries. We give you batteries and the supplies you’ll need. We activate the warranty and loss insurance for you at that appointment. You will schedule your first follow-up visit before you leave that day. You will pay for your hearing aids at this appointment, and you’ll receive a receipt to make your insurance claim.
After the fitting
Several rechecks of the efficacy of the hearing aids are conducted during the first 60 days of use. We teach you how to clean and maintain your hearing aids. We will also continue to help you develop strategies to get the most out of your hearing devices. We may add programs that you can manually switch to as needed, but we try to keep things and simple and straight-forward as possible. All recheck appointments are included during the first 12 months post-fitting.
We recommend follow-up appointments every six months, or sooner if problems arise. We will inspect your ears, professionally clean and service your hearing aids, and discuss add-on products such as Bluetooth devices or remote microphones as the needs arise. If your hearing changes, we will retest you, and we can usually re-program your hearing aids to accommodate the new level of hearing loss.