If you’ve never been to an audiologist before, it helps to know what to expect. And whether you know you have hearing loss or are just going for a hearing check-up, it is good to prepare a little.
To help you the best they can, the hearing care expert needs to know all about your unique hearing. So please think about the following
- Think about what situations you find especially difficult
- Review the ten warning signs of hearing loss
- Bring someone with you to help contribute information that only a third person can
Once you arrive for your visit, your hearing care expert will discuss your hearing history to understand what factors have influenced your hearing. They’ll want to get more information about your personal hearing needs.
The hearing care expert will also inspect your ears for blockages or any other visible problems.
Your visit may also include a listening experience with hearing devices, to see what kinds of sounds you can hear. Your hearing care expert will explain the results to you clearly. It will then be time to develop a plan for the next steps.
If you have a hearing loss, they may recommend hearing aids. If you are fitted with new hearing aids, don’t be afraid to go back for additional follow-up visits. You might walk out after the first visit completely pleased with your purchase. For other people, getting used to wearing new hearing aids can be tough. Especially if this is your first pair of hearing aids, it can take several weeks or even months to get used to them.
About hearing loss
There are different types of hearing loss, and different levels of severity. Without going into the details too much here, it is caused either because sound cannot get to the inner ear (conductive hearing loss), or because sound is not properly sent from the inner ear to the brain (sensorineural hearing loss).
Hearing loss can be mild, moderate, severe or profound. What we call deafness is sometimes in fact ‘profound hearing loss’ – when the person suffering from it can hear very loud noises.
Hearing loss figures
- About 1 in 6 people are currently hearing impaired (about 1.1 billion people)
- At the age of 65, one 1 in 3 people has a hearing loss
- Hearing loss is the 3rd most common health condition among adults
- On average, people with hearing loss wait 8 years before getting treatment
Tinnitus (ringing or whooshing sounds in the ears) is related to hearing loss, and often accompanies it.
Because it takes so much more effort to listen, hearing loss can be very socially isolating. It can lead to depression and can hasten the onset of dementia. With more severe hearing loss, the risk of dementia is considerably higher. Not only does it disconnect sufferers from other people, it also cuts them off from current affairs and broader cultural participation via TV, radio, theatre and so on.
So how can people with hearing loss reconnect?
The level of hearing loss a person has affects the type of hearing aid they need. Typically, more mild types of hearing loss can be treated with smaller devices. However, the choice of hearing aid also depends on the size and shape of people’s ears – especially where ‘invisible’ hearing aids are concerned.
Hearing loss can affect only one ear. However, it often occurs in both. Some people choose to treat it only in one ear to save on buying one hearing aid. We don’t recommend this, because with only one working ear we lose many of our capabilities, such as the ability to determine where a sound is coming from.
Whether people need one or two hearing aids, each person’s hearing is unique – because hearing is, in fact, thinking.
We hear with our brains
Our ears are the organs we use to gather the sounds around us, but we actually hear with our brains. So if your ears are not properly picking up sounds and delivering them to your brain, your brain can have a hard time. Because the brain has to work harder to make sense of what’s going on – especially during conversations – hearing loss makes people more tired. The extra effort it takes to listen makes it measurably harder to remember things too.
Put simply: hearing is thinking.
Just as we all think in different ways, people hear in very different ways too. Your hearing is unique! So hearing aids must be tailored (fitted) to your ears.
Most hearing aids have different settings for different environments. If you are fitted with hearing aids, you will need to switch between programs when you are in a noisy restaurant, listening to music, or having a conversation on a telephone. These programs all need to be set by your hearing care expert.
If you are fitted with new hearing aids, don’t be afraid to go back for additional follow-up visits. You might walk out after the first visit completely pleased with your purchase. For other people, getting used to wearing new hearing aids can be tough. Especially if this is your first pair of hearing aids, it can take several weeks or even months to get used to them.