When Should You Get a Hearing Aid?

“What’s going to happen? How much will it cost? Who do I need to talk to?”

The idea of getting a hearing aid can be an overwhelming prospect. 

This week we’re going to explain every single step of the process, from the moment you suspect that you have hearing loss until you walk out of a facility with brand new hearing aids and reclaim your quality of life.

When Should I Get a Hearing Aid?

Like any issue, admitting you have a problem is a difficult first step. According to research, approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing with about 28.8 million of those able to benefit from using hearing aids. At the same time, only 1 in 5 people who would benefit from a hearing aid actually uses one.

If you find that you’re struggling to participate in conversations, having a hard time with background noise, asking people to repeat themselves multiple times, it might be time to explore whether or not you have hearing loss.

Where Can I Get a Hearing Aid?

While some are offered over the counter but this depends on the level of hearing loss. 

This is because in the United States there are federal laws and statutes protecting these types of devices and requiring that a hearing care professional fit them to avoid further damage. 

For instance, if you only have mild to moderate hearing loss and use a hearing aid that is meant for situations where someone has more severe hearing loss it could actually do more damage to your ears.

The Process for Getting a Hearing Aid

Once you suspect that you may have hearing loss, the next step is to identify a hearing care professional to get your hearing tested.

This may be at a private clinic, a hospital, or some other medical setting. Some retailers also offer hearing tests but you’ll have to check with the ones in your area to be sure. You can also check out Vibe’s partner page to see if there’s a vibe-certified audiologist near you.

 “There's a benefit to having a baseline hearing test even if you don’t want to get hearing aids right away,” notes Vibe Hearing’s audiologist Annie Duchen “A hearing test is the start of your journey for hearing needs. As you age it helps to have a baseline so you know if something is wrong.”

Typically what will happen is you’ll show up for your appointment and the first step will be to have your hearing tested. 

Choosing a Hearing Aid

That same day you should get your results and have them explained to you by the hearing professional.

If you do have hearing loss, you’ll likely be offered a range of options for treatment which will usually be hearing aid options that fit your degree of hearing loss. Just because you go get your hearing tested doesn't mean you need a hearing aid. Having a baseline test is still important. There's no requirement to purchase anything.

In most states, you might have to sign a waiver that says that you do not have any medical conditions that need to be addressed before fitting a hearing aid. It will vary from situation to situation, but if there are any concerns for anything that needs to be addressed medically, you may be referred to an ENT to get medical clearance—meaning you have to see an ENT before getting a hearing aid.

Most clinics will let you leave with the devices that day and give you a trial period so you can decide if the devices are right for you. If you are cleared to leave with the devices that day, you'll learn how they work, how often to wear them, and be scheduled for a follow-up appointment to check in and see how you're doing.

What Happens After You Get Your Hearing Aids?

Typically as a hearing aid user, you've got a regimented follow-up sequence. 

It might be every 6 months to start and drop down to annual.

Follow-ups include repeat testing, checking the hearing aids, adjustments based on feedback, testing your hearing again with hearing aids turned on to verify that they are improving your range of hearing.

For many devices, there are settings that a hearing care professional has the ability to turn on and off based on needs and preferences.

Tips for Hearing Aid Success

If you do start using a hearing aid, here are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Make sure the device is put in deep enough: If you don’t put the hearing aids in deep enough, the volume of sound can be affected and you can get feedback which at best can be distracting and at worst can feel uncomfortable.
    • Give it time to adjust: Hearing aids are not like glasses where you put them on and it works immediately. Your brain needs some time to learn how to hear sounds in a new way.
    • Utilize your hearing care professional: If you have any issues or concerns, you should get in touch with your HCP immediately. Sometimes it takes time to adjust to how you want to use and listen to it.
    • Use your hearing aid in a variety of settings: Dr. Duchen noted that it’s common for some people to only wear it in the situations they had trouble with before (i.e. when they go out to dinner). You should wear your devices in a variety of settings in order to both get used to using the devices and make sure they’re working in all the environments you spend time in.
    • Be patient with yourself: it’s important enough that it bears repeating—give your brain time to adjust. Some sounds may be more irritating than they were before. Focus more on the positive like all the new things you can hear again.

Finally, use your hearing aids. Dr. Duchen has said in her experience that "The most successful people use their devices frequently though it may take a while to build up to full-time use.”

 

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