If you’re in the market for hearing aids, chances are you’ve turned to a variety of resources for information; the internet, your physician or a friend/family member. After doing a little research, you’re probably just as confused and overwhelmed as when you started. The magnitude of information on technology with channels, bandwidth, small, digital, analog, wireless, noise reduction is enough for some to delay the process for months or even years. So how are you supposed to know what to choose?
The first step in choosing a hearing aid is to have a comprehensive hearing evaluation by an audiologist. An evaluation begins with a thorough medical history and a complete audiogram, which includes pure tone air and bone conduction testing to determine the degree and type of hearing loss along with speech testing in quiet and in noise to determine the percentage of speech discrimination in a variety of listening environment s.
I’ve yet to see a patient who has been bothered by the fact that they can’t hear sounds as softly as they once did. What bothers most people with hearing loss is the fact that they can’t understand what others are saying, especially in group settings and in the presence of background noise. Speech testing evaluates a person’s speech clarity in a variety of listening environments. It serves as a valuable guide in determining the features and technology a patient needs.
After the evaluation process, it is important to discuss life style, hearing needs and budget in order to make appropriate hearing recommendations. What are your goals? What do you hope to gain? What types of listening environments do you encounter and which situations do you require additional hearing benefit? Do you have any cosmetic concerns as far as the hearing aid design? The more details you can provide, the better the audiologist can select the appropriate hearing solution for you.
Hearing aids are essentially customized computers for the ears. There is a wide variety of technologies along with a variety of feature sets that can be selected based on your needs, lifestyle and budget. Often, the more advanced the technology is to help with noisy environments, the better chance of enhancing the clarity of speech and therefore giving you a better chance of communicating more effectively. The lower level technologies generally do not address noise reduction. Therefore, each patient must understand the benefits as well as the limitations of each level of technology.
Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, from very small totally in the ear devices to devices worn behind the ear. The look, or style, of a hearing aid is independent from the computer technology itself. Each level of technology accommodates the same computer chip regardless of size.
The most important aspect of the hearing aid process is the professional you are working with. The product is only a small part of the equation for better hearing. It was once said that buying a hearing aid can be equated to buying an airplane. It doesn’t matter how large, fast, or luxurious your plane is if you do not have a pilot who is capable of flying it. Investigate the credentials of the audiologist that you choose and select your provider carefully.
Audiological Consultants of Atlanta is a private practice that has been in existence for 33 years. The owners of the practice, Dr. Helena Solodar and Dr. Kadyn Williams, have vast experience in many areas of audiology and are well known in the field. They have gone to great lengths to make sure their practice is staffed with only the best and brightest. Our goal is to combine the science, art and our skill of the highest quality to help you communicate more effectively.