Hearing is one of the primary ways that we connect with the world and those around us. By hearing and listening, we learn, communicate, and care for our families, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Hearing provides us with comfort and safety. 

Oftentimes, hearing loss occurs gradually over time, and can be almost indistinguishable, especially for individuals who have always regarded their hearing as being good or adequate. However, the Hearing Loss Association of America reports that nearly 20 percent of American adults—or 48 million—have some degree of hearing loss, and a third of individuals over 65 have hearing loss. Hearing loss is prevalent and not at all unusual. In fact, it is one of the most common physical conditions experienced by people in the United States, behind arthritis and heart disease. 

Oftentimes, individuals are not even aware that they are experiencing hearing loss. However, it’s an important part of your health to consider, even if it isn’t at the forefront of your mind. Visiting an audiologist or hearing aid specialist is an important step to determining your degree of hearing loss and considering options like hearing aids that will help you to communicate with others with more ease and clarity.

To determine whether you might be experiencing hearing loss, consider the following questions:

  • Do family members or friends complain that you’ve turned up the TV or radio too high?
  • Do you experience difficulties speaking to people on the phone?
  • Do you ever hear a ringing in your ears?
  • Do you often feel like others are mumbling or need to ask them to repeat themselves?
  • Do you avoid activities that might require better hearing?

If any of these situations sound familiar, it may be time to consider vising an audiologist or hearing specialist. While doctors perform simple hearing tests, like snapping behind the ears, they often don’t perform comprehensive hearing exams. if you are experiencing any of the above signs of hearing loss or have noticed other indicators of hearing loss, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a specialist who understands the intricacies of hearing loss and can create a plan for better hearing. It may be daunting to visit an audiologist for the first time, but here’s what you should expect and look for in an audiologist. 

Hearing Specialists Give Evaluation & Hearing Tests

A comprehensive evaluation is the key to creating an individualized plan for better hearing. Evaluations should be composed not only of a simple audiogram (or tone hearing test), but also of a thorough evaluation of your medical history, an otoscopy (a visual examination of the ears and ear canals), and speech testing. 

At Audiology Consultants of Southwest Florida, we begin all hearing tests by thoroughly evaluating your medical history. It’s important to take past diagnoses into account that could be contributing to your hearing loss. A number of medical factors can play a role in hearing loss, and it’s important to consider those possibilities before any other testing occurs.

Next, we generally perform an otoscopy. An otoscopy is a visual examination of the ear and ear canals. An otoscopy is important because it can rule out any blockages or growths that could contribute to hearing impairment. 

The component of a hearing examination that most clients are generally familiar with is the audiogram, as they are frequently performed on children. Using a pair of headphones in a soundproof booth, we have clients listen to steady tones at varied frequencies in order to quantify hearing loss in decibels and determine the tones that they are able to perceive at a variety of frequencies that are used in human speech. This helps us understand the nature of one’s hearing loss.

Finally, we use a speech test to better understand clients’ abilities to comprehend and perceive speech in a variety of circumstances. This is important because it provides a human element to our exam—we don’t use beeps to communicate!

It’s really important to look for hearing specialists and audiologists that use comprehensive testing to understand hearing loss and find a solution that works towards allowing you to better communicate with loved ones, coworkers, and those you need to interact with on a daily basis. Your ability to hear is complex and dependent on a number of variables, and it’s important to consider the many factors that may contribute to your hearing loss before coming to any conclusions or making a plan for better hearing. 

Hearing Specialists Give A Plan for Better Hearing

After completing a comprehensive hearing evaluation, your audiologist will explain the results and conclusions they have drawn, and present you with options that will improve your hearing. At Audiology Consultants of Southwest Florida, we explain all of the details of your test and work together to find the best solution to improve your quality of life. 

After placing an order for the appropriate hearing aids, we schedule a time for you to come back for a hearing aid fitting. At that appointment, we program your hearing aids and provide you with instructions for fitting your hearing aids correctly and maintaining them properly. We often schedule follow up appointments after your initial fitting to make any additional adjustments and check in about how they’re working for you.

Choosing a Hearing Specialist

When choosing an audiologist, look for someone with experience providing quality care to clients. You may consider a business that has a long history serving clients, and read reviews before you go. No matter what, you should expect your audiologist or hearing specialist to be thorough, caring, and comprehensive in their approach to helping you regain your hearing. 

Hearing is essential to connection and building community, and it’s important to choose the right person to help you along that journey. Your hearing should not be taken lightly, and it’s important to find an experienced and caring professional to both perform hearing evaluations and help formulate a plan for better hearing with you. By strengthening your hearing, you will be able to better communicate with coworkers, close friends, grandchildren, and other loved ones in your ilfe.