With recent changes in legislation and more coming down the pike, hearing aids are becoming directly available to the consumer. Here’s what you should know before considering purchasing hearing aids, specifically, why you should have your hearing tested first.
In most circumstances, hearing loss is a slow progressive decline. In other cases, there may be a medical component causing the hearing loss, such as fluid behind the ear drum, dysfunction of the middle ear bones, bony growths within the middle ear system, and more. Hearing loss can also come on suddenly due to exposure to loud noise or from a virus attacking the organ of the inner ear. Just like our eyes, our hearing anatomy is an organ of its own with its own complexities of neural processing done in the brain. Perception of sound is also uniquely different from one person to the next. By having a comprehensive hearing evaluation, you can learn about where your hearing loss is occurring whether it’s neural, conductive (within the mechanical piece of the ear system) or a mix of both. This allows the hearing professional to make the proper recommendation for your next steps, whether that’s hearing aids or a medical evaluation to rule out any factors that may be contributing to hearing loss outside of natural decline. In some circumstances, a hearing evaluation even allows the provider enough evidence to help other medical professionals identify an acoustic neuroma. Symptoms of this may include hearing loss in one ear (or worse in one ear), tinnitus in one ear, vertigo, unsteadiness, and/or facial numbness.
There are a multitude of different types of amplification available to the public. Some can be purchased through a magazine, online, or through a dispenser or audiologist. But would you buy eyewear without knowing how your vision is? Sure, you can get away with ‘cheaters’, but at some point, you need a proper evaluation to understand how you can perform best with your eyewear and to trust the person who is making those recommendations. Hearing is the same, a unique hearing loss for each individual which requires a prescription to be verified for best performance. It also requires a licensed professional who is trained and educated in the field to make the best recommendations and opportunities for successful hearing with amplification for each person individually. Enjoy the sounds of life by finding a provider you can trust with your hearing care needs.