Nearly 40 million Americans suffer from some sort of hearing impairment. Unfortunately, most of them don’t know it because hearing loss typically happens so gradually many people don’t realize it is happening to them. It takes an average of seven years before those affected by hearing loss seek help. The good news is hearing loss is not difficult to treat.
Are you or a loved one experiencing hearing loss? If so, an audiologist can help.
Before hiring the services of an audiologist, visit your primary care doctor. The doctor can determine if there is a physical reason for the hearing impairment, such as an infection or ear wax buildup. If the loss isn’t caused by an infection or other easily treated methods, your doctor will usually recommend a secondary visit to an ear, nose and throat doctor or an audiologist.
Your primary care physician may provide several audiologists to choose from. Now it’s time to do some research. Audiologists may have specialties. For example, some professionals see elderly patients while others may focus on helping young people. The audiologist might have a special skill, such as cochlear implants.
Consult your friends and family who have experienced hearing loss. Perhaps they have seen an audiologist in your area and can give you a good recommendation.
When you have narrowed your choices down to two or three professionals, call their offices and conduct a preliminary interview. Before anything else, make sure they accept new patients as well as your insurance. You don’t want to spend a lot of time on an audiologist you won’t be able to see.
They should inform you about the audiologist’s background and specialization, along with the wait time for new patients. Ensure that the professional has the proper license and reliable references to patients he has treated.
Before making an appointment, consider your goals. You might want a complete hearing evaluation. Perhaps you need a fitting for a new hearing aid or a replacement. Or maybe you need more information about ear care and preventing hearing loss.
It is usually impossible to resolve an issue with one appointment. Follow up visits for tests, consultations and fittings will likely be necessary.
If you have experienced hearing loss, then your relationship with your audiologist should be ongoing. Make sure you are comfortable with this person.
While you’re at it, it is never too early to have a child’s ears checked by a qualified practitioner. Children who have a hard time hearing will have a difficult time in school, and the sooner the condition is treated, the better off the child will be.
There is no shame in getting help for hearing impairment. These problems do not go away by themselves. Visiting an audiologist can improve the quality of your life.