Heading to your first appointment with an audiologist? Great! It?s a key step in maintaining and improving your overall health and quality of life. But like any doctor, your audiologist isn?t there to make you better. Rather, they?ll help you find the best treatment for your hearing loss. Get the most out of your first appointment by going in prepared with these four important questions to ask your audiologist.
What type and degree of hearing loss do I have?
Everyone has a different experience of hearing loss. After your hearing evaluation, your audiologist will be able to give you more information about your specific hearing loss. Audiologists talk about hearing loss using two key measurements: type and degree.
There are three main types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural, and mixed.
- Sensorineural hearing loss occurs between the inner ear and the brain. It usually has to do with the loss of tiny hair cells that capture sound inside the inner ear. Hair cells can be damaged by noise and may naturally deteriorate as you age, but they can?t be repaired directly.
- Conductive hearing loss happens when the outer or middle ear are blocked or damaged. This can be caused by eardrum ruptures, growths, or wax impaction.
- Mixed hearing loss is a combination of the other two kinds of hearing loss.
Want to know more? Read our guide to the 3 main types of hearing loss!
To measure the degree of hearing loss you experience, your audiologist will refer to it as Mild, Moderate, Severe, or Profound. At the Mild level, you might only have trouble with softer speech sounds, but at the Profound level you might not be able to hear any speech sounds at all.
What kind of hearing loss treatment is right for me?
Your audiologist won?t just determine your level of hearing loss – they will also help you find the right treatment. In many cases, they?ll point you to hearing aids. These devices amplify sound and help your ears make the most of their remaining abilities.
Hearing aids come in many forms at several price points. Gone are the days of your parents? bulky, whistling hearing aids. Today?s devices come in several shapes – most are small and discreet, while some are practically invisible!
The latest hearing aid technology is smarter, more powerful, and easier to use than ever. Many hearing aids come with Bluetooth connectivity built in, allowing you to connect to other devices for more utility and convenience. Learn more in our guide to the latest hearing aid technology.
Some forms of conductive hearing loss can be corrected through surgery or other means. Your audiologist will be able to tell you if other remedies are available for your particular cause of hearing loss.
Higher levels of hearing loss may warrant the use of cochlear implants. These devices are surgically implanted and stimulate the auditory nerve, bypassing problems in the ear and simulating the ability to hear. We go into more detail in our discussion on the differences between hearing aids and cochlear implants. If you want to know if cochlear implants are right for you, that?s one of the questions to ask your audiologist.
How can I prevent my hearing loss from getting worse?
Worse hearing doesn?t have to be inevitable. Once your audiologist has defined your level of hearing loss, there are steps you can take to prevent it from getting worse. It?s important to protect the hearing ability you have!
Ask your audiologist for specific advice on preventing more damage to your ears. They?ll have several pieces of expert advice to offer. For example, they can tell you which hearing loss-causing medications you should avoid. They may also have tips to help you avoid loud noises and become more aware of the noise level you are exposed to. Some audiologists can recommend certain hearing protection based on your occupation or activities.
If hearing aids are the right treatment for your hearing loss, they can help keep it from getting worse too. Without hearing aids, you may need things (like your TV, your phone, or your spouse, for example) to be louder in order to hear them. But making up for hearing loss this way can just cause it to get worse. Hearing aids can also slow or stop the process of cognitive decline, which can cause a degeneration in your hearing ability.
How long will my hearing aids last?
Today?s hearing aids are better engineered and better performing than older devices. Each hearing aid is different and may have a different lifespan, but most hearing aids last between four and six years.
Your audiologist will be able to tell you how long you should expect your chosen hearing aid to last. They?ll also be able to explain the features of the device that can affect its longevity, such as rechargeable or replaceable batteries.
Hearing aids last longest with regular care and maintenance. This is one of the best questions to ask your audiologist because it gives them the chance to explain the proper ways to care for your hearing aids. They may give you specific cleaning instructions or even a cleaning kit with some useful tools to help keep your devices in top shape. We have some tips for how to clean your hearing aids, too!
Your audiologist can also tell you what to do if you experience problems or malfunctions. They may instruct you to bring them to the clinic for minor repairs or tell you how to contact the manufacturer.
There Are No Silly Questions to Ask Your Audiologist
Being proactive is vital when it comes to your hearing health. With these questions to ask your audiologist, you can get the most out of your hearing exam and start down the path to better hearing. Your audiologist will welcome any question you may have about your hearing loss or treatment options. Put their expertise to use and learn how you can hear better!