For many people, hearing care services are a necessity. These services range from annual cleanings to more advanced procedures like cochlear implants. Regardless of a person’s hearing needs, it’s important to be informed about the different services available. Below, find a comprehensive overview of hearing care services so that anyone can make the best decision for their needs.
Hearing Care Services Offered by Audiologists
People may need to see an audiologist if they’re experiencing hearing loss or other ear problems. Audiologists are healthcare professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating hearing disorders. They can provide a variety of services, including the following.
Also called audiometric testing, this is used to assess an individual’s hearing ability and identify any problems. There are several hearing tests, including pure-tone audiometry (PTA), which measures how well you hear tones of different pitches, and speech audiometry, which measures how well someone understands speech.
Middle Ear Examinations
This type of examination uses an otoscope—a small, hand-held tool with a light—to look inside your ears. The audiologist will look for any blockages, growths, or other abnormalities.
This test assesses the health of the eardrum and the tiny bones in the middle ear. It’s often used to diagnose problems like fluid buildup in the middle ear or damage to the eardrum.
Electronic Recording of Neuronal Responses
This test is used to assess the function of the auditory nerve, which is the nerve that carries information from the ear to the brain. The test can be used to diagnose problems like nerve deafness.
There are two main types of hearing aids: personal sound amplification products (PSAPs) and traditional hearing aids. PSAPs are simple devices that amplify sound; they’re not meant to correct hearing loss and usually don’t require a prescription. Traditional hearing aids, on the other hand, are designed to correct specific types of hearing loss and require a prescription from an audiologist or other healthcare professional.
Choosing the right type of hearing aid depends on several factors, including the severity of hearing loss, the wearer’s lifestyle, and their budget. For mild to moderate hearing loss, a PSAP is sufficient. However, if for severe hearing loss or features like Bluetooth connectivity, a traditional hearing aid would be a better option.
A cochlear implant is a small device that’s surgically implanted in the inner ear. It provides a sense of sound to people who are profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve—the nerve that transmits information from the ear to the brain—to provide sound signals that can help people understand speech and environmental sounds such as doorbell ringing or dogs barking.
Not everyone is a good candidate for cochlear implants. A person must have reasonable expectations for what they can do and be willing to commit to postoperative care and rehabilitation. Cochlear implants also require a team approach. Before surgery, a patient will need to meet with an ENT specialist (a doctor who specializes in diseases of the ear), an audiologist, and a speech-language pathologist to determine if implants are the best option.
Hearing Aid Maintenance and Repair
Once a patient has hearing aids, it’s important to keep them clean and maintained so they last as long as possible. Depending on the device type, there are different maintenance requirements. For example, some types of devices need new batteries every few days, while others only need new batteries once per month. Be sure to follow all manufacturer instructions for cleaning and maintaining your devices. Anyone who is unsure how often the devices need batteries or what type of batteries they use is encouraged to ask an audiologist or another care team member for guidance.
Identifying The Right Hearing Professional
There are a few things you can do to find a reputable and qualified hearing health services professional in a specific area. Start by asking friends, family, and doctors for recommendations. Once you have a few names, check online directories to read reviews and find out more about each provider.
When the options are narrowed down, schedule a consultation before making a decision. During the consultation, be sure to ask about the provider’s qualifications, experience, and approach to care. Discuss their goals for treatment and ask about the provider’s philosophy on care. By doing appropriate research, patients can be confident they’re choosing the best possible provider.
What To Expect During Initial Consultation With a Hearing Care Specialist
Most people who suspect they have a hearing problem will see a hearing care specialist for an initial consultation. During this visit, the specialist will ask about the patient’s medical history and any symptoms they may be experiencing. The specialist will also conduct a physical examination of a patient’s ears.
In some cases, they may also order tests, such as an audiogram, to assess a patient’s hearing more accurately. Based on all of this information, the specialist can diagnose any hearing problems and develop a treatment plan. In some cases, they may refer a patient to another type of specialist, such as an ENT doctor, for further evaluation or treatment.
Patients should have regular checkups with their audiologist so that they can clean their devices and check them for any potential issues. If a patient experiences problems with a device—like feedback or distortion when using them—be sure to bring them in as soon as possible so that they can be repaired before any further damage occurs.
Frequency Of Visiting Hearing Care Specialists
Hearing professionals recommend that patients have their hearing checked at least once yearly. However, some people may need to visit more frequently depending on their situation. For example, people with a history of hearing loss or who are exposed to loud noise regularly may need to visit more often for checkups and treatments.
During these visits, hearing care professionals will clean the ear canal, check for any wax buildup, and assess the condition of the eardrum. They will also test the patient’s hearing to see any changes. If necessary, they will prescribe new hearing aids or adjust existing ones. By visiting a hearing care professional regularly, patients can ensure their hearing is maintained at its best. There are many different types of hearing care services available depending on a patient’s needs. Anyone requiring help with their hearing shouldn’t hesitate to make an appointment with an audiologist.