About this time last year (wow time has flown), I wrote a blog about why people avoid getting help for their hearing loss. As studies have shown, the average individual will wait about 5 years before they admit that they have hearing loss (likely at the behest of the family) and another 2 years before taking action. That blog was important to share in the month of May because May is Better Hearing and Speech month.
Well, guess what? May is around the corner and it’s time to write about better hearing again, right?. Well, maybe not this time. Instead of a post like our previous blogs that focused on hearing loss, technology advances, and our free demo program, maybe the focus needs to be on the medical side of it all. Could that be the reason only about 20% of the hearing impaired are wearing devices? The fact we’re bombarded with newspaper ads, mailers, and other media focusing on products, discounts, and free stuff probably isn’t helping. And I’m guilty of doing some of this at our practice. Why? Because that’s the way it’s always been done. If people are waiting over 5 years, how do we get their attention? How do we get people to think about their hearing loss and improve their quality of life? By providing a discount coupon or putting out a full page ad? Probably not. Those types of advertisements probably pique the interest of people who already wear hearing devices and maybe are looking to replace them with better technology. But what about the other 80% of the hearing impaired, how do we reach them?
The first step is the hearing evaluation. Medicare and most insurances (check yours or we can for you) pay for a diagnostic hearing evaluation. What’s the difference you might ask between that and a free hearing screen?
The diagnostic exam gives us much more information and is the test recommended by physicians and Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists. The full diagnostic test provides us with results that tell us what type of hearing loss is present and if it is temporary or permanent. Also, it will tell us what part of the ear is affected. The diagnostic test also includes speech testing and measurement of the eardrum. All of this information will determine whether hearing devices are the best solution or if the hearing loss can be treated by our ENT physicians.
At ACENT we have 2 doctors of audiology that use state of the art testing equipment that will provide you with diagnosis, information, and solutions for your hearing loss. With 4 Ear, Nose, and Throat physicians on staff, should you want to discuss your hearing loss further or if it can be medically treated, appointments can be made.
With such a wide range of hearing devices available to fit every budget and technology level, the fitting has never been more crucial. Post the demo (1-2 week no charge, just don’t lose them please), the next step is the fitting of new devices. The devices are programmed and tested using special equipment called Real-Ear that measures in real time how the hearing device is working to your specific ear. We also may use a computer to analyze how the device is working and if it’s reaching the correct specifications.
Patients are seen every 6 months for device maintenance (included in the fitting ) and once a year an annual hearing test is done; devices are reprogrammed if needed. The above device tests may also be done depending on results each visit.
If you are thinking (or your family has been nagging) about getting your hearing tested, by all means, do your research online, ask friends, and then give us a call or send us an email. We’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.
Stay tuned for our next Lunch and Learn this summer; they’ve been very popular educational forums!