Who can help with hearing loss?
If you think that you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss it is best to speak to an ear doctor or ear specialist (known as an audiologist, hearing care professional, or an ear, nose and throat [ENT] doctor) for audiological care. There are several types which can assess your hearing based on tests, and then help you find a solution that is right for you.
An Audiologist This ear specialist is a highly trained health care professional who is recognized for their specialty in hearing assessments, and expertise in providing solutions for hearing health care. ENT physician This ear doctor is a physician who specializes in hearing problems and medical issues regarding the ear, nose and throat (ENT). May also be referred to as an Otologist, Otolaryngologist and/or Neuro-Otologist. Hearing care professional A hearing care professional is someone who helps people with hearing loss. There is a range of ear specialists in the field who are qualified to test for hearing loss, recommend hearing aid solutions, and fit and service hearing aids.
Why work with a professional? Once you find a hearing care specialist and set up an appointment, there are many reasons to partner with a professional. They can assist with other audiological care, too, which include the following:
Clean out excessive wax: Normally, earwax is beneficial, because it is self-cleaning, it protects the ear, and it keeps the canal moist. Sometimes your body produces an excessive amount. If your earwax is impacted, and you’re having a hard time removing it, your hearing care specialist will be able to help without damaging your ears. Take note that you should never try to use a cotton swab to clean it out yourself. You can potentially do more harm.
Provide guidance: A hearing care specialist can perform hearing tests as well as a physical check to see what might be the specific cause of your hearing loss and how best to treat it.
Consult on hearing protection: Besides where you can get a hearing aid, a hearing care specialist can provide guidance on a wide range of hearing protection products available. It could be foam earplugs, solid earplugs, musician earplugs and even noise-blocking earmuffs. The specialist can also take into consideration the environment where you would need to wear ear protection to recommend the type that would suit you well.
Advise on balance issues: Along with finding help with hearing loss, a hearing care specialist can perform a number of different balance tests if you are experiencing dizziness and balance issues. They may also test your eye movements as your eyes can give you clues to the function of the inner ear.
Help with tinnitus. Do you have ringing, buzzing or whistling in your ears that only you can hear? This is called tinnitus, which is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. It is a symptom of some underlying health concern, and not a disease. A hearing care specialist can help with different tinnitus treatments.
If you would like to discuss any of the above topics, let us help you find a hearing care specialist today. They can advise you on the best audiological care that is available. What makes for a great hearing care specialist? Now that you’ve taken the first step to find a hearing care specialist and more toward audiological care to seek help with hearing loss, here are important expectations to look for in a hearing care specialist.
Recommends bringing a family member or friend to your appointment. The people around you share in the experience of your hearing loss. They also might be able to provide important information that you are not aware of since sometimes the person affected with hearing loss might not realize everything they’ve been missing. Your family member or friend can also help by asking questions you might have forgotten or maybe didn’t think to ask. Plus, the hearing care specialist can utilize the loved one to support you in becoming more acclimated to a hearing device if one is needed.
Provides a full range of hearing tests. This includes speech testing and possibly speech-in-noise testing. You can ask what tests the hearing care specialist will perform when you call to inquire about the appointment. Or, you can ask the front desk as you fill out the in-take form.
Has a good reputation. Don’t hesitate to talk to friends who are happy with their hearing instruments and care, read online reviews, such as on Facebook, Google Business, and Yelp, and ask your doctors. Also, many hearing care specialists have websites with patient testimonials that provide you with additional support.
Use Real Ear equipment to appropriately verify your hearing devices. This includes any current and future hearing devices. By using Real Ear equipment, it ensures that the hearing aids are providing the appropriate amplification for your ears and your hearing loss. They enjoy what they do. Hearing care specialists love helping people regain their hearing, and this satisfaction is usually the reason they got into the hearing industry. Feel free to ask them why they love what they do and how they plan to partner with you throughout your hearing journey.
Finding a good hearing care specialist – one whom you can partner with during your hearing care journey – means you will be working with someone who takes the time to learn about your hearing needs as well as your lifestyle and your motivations behind seeking help with hearing loss. Why is it important to get help with hearing loss? Many people with untreated hearing loss have trouble with communicating, socializing, working and overall enjoying life. However, because hearing loss is usually gradual, many people do not realize how it is affecting them. In addition, many people with untreated hearing loss believe they “hear just fine,” because they can hear some sound. It is important to find an audiologist who can check hearing and provide audiological care for many reasons.
Hearing loss and other health-related issues Studies have shown a link between untreated hearing loss and other health issues, which include:
Cognitive decline: When auditory perception is difficult, such as with hearing loss, greater cognitive resources have to be dedicated to auditory processing, which is suspected to cause other processes, like working memory, to suffer. Those with hearing loss have demonstrated a 30% to 40% accelerated rate of cognitive decline1.
Depression: With feelings of anxiety about not comprehending what was said in a noisy place, embarrassment for asking people to repeat themselves and awkwardness for not responding in conversations, many people with untreated hearing loss struggle with anxiety, social isolation, depression and other mental concerns. A study by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) shows that more than 11 percent of those with hearing loss also had depression, as opposed to only 5 percent in the general population2.
Increased falls: People with at least 25dB hearing loss are three times more likely to report a fall. And for every 10dB increase in hearing loss, there was a 1.4 times increase in chance of falling3. Possible explanations for the link is that people who cannot hear well might not have good awareness of their overall environment, making tripping and falling more likely.
Adding the costs to hearing loss Untreated hearing loss can also have a cost behind it. Untreated hearing loss in just the U.S. alone costs $133 billion each year4. This breaks down to around $9,100 per person. Another study shared that untreated hearing loss may cause additional health problems that lead to more frequent hospitalizations and higher heath care costs. They calculated an increase of 46% ($22,434 U.S.) in total health care costs over a period of 10 years in relationship to untreated hearing loss4. According to a study by the Better Hearing Institute, people with untreated hearing loss lose as much as $30,000 in income annually, depending on their degree of hearing loss. Use of hearing aids was shown in the same study to reduce the risk of income loss by 90 to 100 percent for those with milder hearing loss, and from 65 to 77 percent for those with severe to moderate hearing loss5.
Lack of connection The primary gratification most senior citizens sought from television were a sense of being more involved in the world, entertainment, acquiring information and passing time. However, TV watching is the top activity identified as being restricted because of hearing difficulty6. And, turning up the volume isn’t always the best solution. Getting help with hearing loss is at your fingertips. Find an audiologist in your area, and they can help you discover what hearing well can mean for you and your family.
What does hearing well mean? When you take that first step to find a hearing care specialist so they can check hearing, you are on your way to discovering a hearing solution. What can this mean for you? It can bring about a more enriched life as well as the following benefits.
Feel less fatigued. With hearing loss, the brain must work harder to make sense of the information it receives. This can lead to feeling tired, especially when trying to hear a conversation and understand what is said. With hearing devices, the amplification makes it easier to hear as well as participate in the conversations.
Become more confident. The National Council on Aging discovered that people who chose to wear hearing aids showed greater emotional stability7. With being able to hear well, people have a more positive outlook in life as well as have the confidence to socialize and interact.
Get in tune with the environment. People who cannot hear well might not have good awareness of their overall environment, making tripping and falling more likely. With hearing devices, you are aware of your surroundings, like when people are approaching or hearing how your footsteps fall on a wooden floor. The dependence on good hearing for personal safety is also important. We are often more likely to hear a potential threat before it becomes visible – if it can be seen at all. For example, crossing the road, responding to smoke alarms and even being in a workplace are all made safer when you can hear well.
Stay connected. The ability to communicate makes life more engaging. A conversation with a friend or family member evokes a sense of belonging. Many Phonak hearing devices have universal connectivity, which can be used with any smartphone for hands-free calling and makes connecting with friends that much easier. Plus, Phonak hearing devices can connect to Bluetooth®-enabled devices to stream audio right to the hearing device to hear TV, radio, podcasts and more.
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