What to Expect During a Hearing Aid Evaluation
If you think that you might be suffering from hearing loss, it’s sensible to go for a hearing aid evaluation. A hearing aid evaluation comprises a consultation followed by a battery of tests to determine the nature and extent of any hearing problems you may have.
Your hearing is a vital sense and an essential part of your daily experience. When your hearing begins to decline, you can feel isolated, vulnerable, and frustrated. The purpose of a hearing aid evaluation is to find out more about your particular type of hearing loss and assess whether you are a suitable candidate to receive a hearing aid.
Many people discover that they can hear normally again once they fit hearing aids, restoring their quality of life. With the right choice of hearing aid, you could too.
The following is what you can expect during a hearing aid evaluation.
An initial consultation
Trained audiologists carry out hearing aid evaluations. Audiologists are certified professionals who have earned a Masters in Audiology from an accredited institution and have vast knowledge and experience with hearing loss and hearing aids.
You will cover the following topics at the initial consultation.
- When you first noticed your hearing loss. Audiologists want to know when your hearing loss started so that they can determine a cause. It could be age-related, the result of illness, medication, or trauma.
- Your current quality of life. The audiologist will then ask how your hearing loss is affecting your quality of life. Hearing loss sometimes leads people to withdraw from social situations or to feel depressed and frustrated if they can’t hear what’s being said.
- Your lifestyle. Finally, your audiologists may ask about your current lifestyle, especially things that could be affecting your ability to hear, such as listening to loud music.
The patient questionnaire
Some audiologists ask you to fill out a patient questionnaire. The patient questionnaire is a set of questions designed to help the audiologist understand the severity of your hearing loss and how it affects the rest of your life. You could find it slightly difficult to hear people around you, but it might not be affecting your life in any substantial way. Conversely, your hearing loss could be causing relationship or work issues that need to be rectified immediately.
Fill out the patient questionnaire as accurately as possible. The more information you can give your audiologist, the better they will be able to help you.
The hearing test
Hearing tests have two purposes: to find out which part of the ear is damaged and to determine the degree to which your ears are damaged.
During the hearing test, your audiologist will ask you to wear a pair of headphones and will then pipe through sounds and ask you to indicate when you can hear them. The first set of tones that you’re likely to hear will be monotonal - meaning sounds of a constant pitch. The audiologist will change the volume until you indicate that you can hear something, helping them to assess which frequencies you have the most difficulty detecting.
If your audiologist believes that you will benefit from hearing aids, then they’ll ask you to participate in the ASHA-recommended “measurement of loudness discomfort” test. The test measures your sensitivity to volume and allows the audiologist to set a comfortable level of amplification on your assistive hearing device.
Besides pure tones, your audiologist may also pipe speech through the headphones. The volume and pitch will vary, to the point where you can barely hear it. Periodically, your audiologist will ask you to repeat back what you’ve heard to check your hearing loss levels. Your audiologist will then use this information to determine how much amplification your hearing aids need to provide.
The hearing aid fitting
If your audiologist believes that you could benefit from hearing aids, they’ll invite you to a hearing aid fitting. A fitting can happen immediately after a hearing aid evaluation, or at a later date.
The purpose of the hearing aid fitting is to both explain the features of various hearing aids on the market as well as take a mold of your ear so that any hearing device that you buy fits perfectly.
During the hearing aid fitting, you’ll learn about the different form factors of hearing aids and be given the opportunity to choose the one that best fits your lifestyle.