Questions to Ask Your Hearing Specialist Before You Buy Hearing Aids

Question Mark

When it’s time to buy a car, the majority of us know exactly what to do. We carry out some research, assess options, and compile a list of questions to ask the dealership. We do this so that by the time we’re ready to head to the dealership, we have an idea of what we’re looking for and we know which questions to ask.

When it’s time to buy hearing aids, however, most people don’t know where to begin. Even though the process is similar to purchasing a car, it’s also in many ways more complex (and probably not quite as fun). It’s more complicated because every individual’s hearing loss is unique and each pair of hearing aids requires custom programming. If buying a car was like this, it would be like you taking it home and having to install the transmission yourself.

Thankfully, you don’t need to know how to program your own hearing aids, but you do need to know the questions to ask to ensure that your hearing specialist covers all bases, correctly programming the most appropriate hearing aids for your requirements and lifestyle. In this way, producing a list of questions to talk about with your hearing specialist is the single most important thing you can do prior to your hearing test.

But which questions should you ask? Here are 35 to get you started, broken down by category:

HEARING LOSS

Specific forms of hearing loss require different forms of treatment. The more you know about your own hearing loss, the better you’ll be able to assess hearing aid options. You want to understand what form of hearing loss you have, if it will get worse, how soon you should treat it, and all of your treatment alternatives.

Questions to ask:

  • What form of hearing loss do I have?
  • Do I have unilateral or bilateral hearing loss?
  • Can I have a copy of my hearing test?
  • Will my hearing loss get worse in the future if left untreated?
  • Will hearing aids enhance my hearing?
  • How much of my hearing will hearing aids regain?
  • What are my other options aside from hearing aids?

HEARING AID STYLES AND FEATURES

Hearing aids are sold in numerous styles, from various producers, armed with numerous features. You need a organized way to narrow down your choices to be sure that you get the proper hearing aid without spending money on features you don’t need or want.

Questions to ask:

  • How many different types of hearing aid styles do you offer?
  • Which hearing aid style is most beneficial for my needs and lifestyle?
  • Which digital features would be relevant to me, and which could I do without?
  • What are telecoils and directional microphones and do I need them?
  • Do I need Bluetooth compatible hearing aids?
  • Do my hearing aids need to be professionally programmed?
  • Do I need one or two hearing aids, and why?

HEARING AID PRICES, FINANCING, WARRANTIES, AND TRIAL PERIODS

The total cost of a pair of hearing aids frequently includes the professional fees associated with custom fitting and programming, along with many other services or accessories. You want to ensure that you understand what you’re receiving for the cost, if financing is provided, if insurance will help, what the warranty includes, the length of the trial period, and if any “restocking fees” apply to the end of the trial period.

Questions to ask:

  • What is the total cost of the hearing aids, including professional services?
  • Do you supply any financing plans?
  • Will my insurance help pay for hearing aids?
  • How much will my hearing aids cost me each year?
  • Do the hearing aids have warranty coverage?
  • How much do hearing aid repairs cost after the warranty has ended?
  • Are repairs completed at the office or someplace else?
  • If my hearing aids have to be sent out for repairs, are loaner hearing aids available?
  • Is there a trial period and how long is it?
  • Is there a restocking fee if I return my hearing aids during or after the trial period?

HEARING AID OPERATION, CARE, AND MAINTENANCE

Your hearing specialist should tell you how to care for, clean, and control your hearing aids. To make sure that nothing is overlooked, see to it that all of these questions are addressed:

Questions to ask:

  • How do I operate my hearing aids?
  • How do I use hearing aids with telephones and other accessories?
  • Can you show me how to use all of the buttons, features, and settings for my hearing aids?
  • What are environmental presets, and how do I access them?
  • Do I need a remote control, or can I use my smart-phone to operate the hearing aids?
  • What batteries do I need, how long will they last, and how do I replace them?
  • How should I clean and store my hearing aids?
  • Do I need to come back for follow-up visits?
  • How long will my hearing aids last?
  • Do I need to update the hearing aid software application?
  • Do I qualify for future hearing aid upgrades?

YOU’RE READY TO SCHEDULE YOUR HEARING TEST

Ok, so buying a pair of hearing aids may not be as enjoyable as shopping for a new car. But the quality of life you’ll attain from better hearing might very well make you happier, as you’ll reconnect with people and take pleasure in the subtleties of sound once again. So go ahead and schedule that hearing test — your new pair of hearing aids are waiting for a test drive.

How to Read Your Audiogram at Your Hearing Test

Audiogram

You have just concluded your hearing test. The hearing specialist is now coming into the room and provides you with a graph, like the one above, except that it has all of these symbols, colors, and lines. This is supposed to provide you with the exact, mathematically precise features of your hearing loss, but to you it might as well be written in Greek.

The audiogram adds confusion and complication at a time when you’re supposed to be focusing on how to strengthen your hearing. But don’t let it mislead you — just because the audiogram looks complicated doesn’t mean that it’s difficult to understand.

After looking through this article, and with a little terminology and a handful of basic concepts, you’ll be reading audiograms like a expert, so that you can focus on what really is important: better hearing.

Some advice: as you read the article, reference the above blank audiogram. This will make it much easier to understand, and we’ll address all of those cryptic marks the hearing specialist adds later on.

Understanding Sound Frequencies and Decibels

The audiogram is basically just a chart that records sound volume on the vertical axis and sound frequency on the horizontal axis. (are you having flashbacks to high school geometry class yet?) Yes, there’s more to it, but at a elementary level it’s just a chart graphing two variables, as follows:

The vertical axis documents sound intensity or volume, measured in decibels (dB). As you move up the axis, the sound volume decreases. So the top line, at 0 decibels, is a very soft, weak sound. As you go down the line, the decibel levels increase, standing for increasingly louder sounds until you get to 100 dB.

The horizontal axis records sound frequency, measured in Hertz (Hz). Beginning at the top left of the graph, you will see a low frequency of 125 or 250 Hz. As you proceed along the horizontal axis to the right, the frequency will progressively increase until it reaches 8,000 Hz. Vowel sounds of speech are in general low frequency sounds, while consonant sounds of speech are high frequency sounds.

And so, if you were to begin at the top left corner of the graph and draw a diagonal line to the bottom right corner, you would be increasing the frequency of sound (going from vowel sounds to consonant sounds) while raising the volume of sound (moving from fainter to louder volume).

Testing Hearing and Marking Up the Audiogram

So, what’s with all the marks you normally see on this basic graph?

Simple. Begin at the top left corner of the graph, at the lowest frequency (125 Hz). Your hearing professional will present you with a sound at this frequency via headphones, beginning with the smallest volume decibel level. If you can perceive it at the lowest level (0 decibels), a mark is made at the intersection point of 125 Hz and 0 decibels. If you are not able to hear the 125 Hz sound at 0 decibels, the sound will be presented once more at the next loudest decibel level (10 decibels). If you can hear it at 10 decibels, a mark is made. If not, advance on to 15 decibels, and so on.

This exact method is carried out for each frequency as the hearing specialist progresses along the horizontal frequency line. A mark is made at the lowest perceivable decibel level you can hear for every different sound frequency.

In terms of the other symbols? If you notice two lines, one is for the left ear (the blue line) and one is for the right ear (the red line: red is for right). An X is ordinarily used to mark the points for the left ear; an O is applied for the right ear. You may notice some additional characters, but these are less significant for your basic understanding.

What Normal Hearing Looks Like

So what is regarded as normal hearing, and what would that look like on the audiogram?

People with normal hearing should be able to perceive every sound frequency level (125 to 8000 Hz) at 0-25 decibels. What might this look like on the audiogram?

Take the blank graph, find 25 decibels on the vertical axis, and sketch a horizontal line completely across. Any mark made below this line may suggest hearing loss. If you can perceive all frequencies under this line (25 decibels or higher), then you most likely have normal hearing.

If, on the other hand, you can’t perceive the sound of a specific frequency at 0-25 dB, you very likely have some form of hearing loss. The lowest decibel level at which you can perceive sound at that frequency determines the extent of your hearing loss.

To provide an example, take the 1,000 Hertz frequency. If you can hear this frequency at 0-25 decibels, you have normal hearing for this frequency. If the lowest decibel level at which you can perceive this frequency is 40 decibels, for instance, then you have moderate hearing loss at this frequency.

As a summary, here are the decibel levels linked with normal hearing along with the levels linked with mild, moderate, severe, and profound hearing loss:

Normal hearing: 0-25 dB

Mild hearing loss: 20-40 dB

Moderate hearing loss: 40-70 dB

Severe hearing loss: 70-90 dB

Profound hearing loss: 90+ dB

What Hearing Loss Looks Like

So what might an audiogram with indicators of hearing loss look like? Because many cases of hearing loss are in the higher frequencies (referred to as — you guessed it — high-frequency hearing loss), the audiogram would have a descending sloping line from the top left corner of the graph sloping downward horizontally to the right.

This will mean that at the higher-frequencies, it requires a progressively louder decibel level for you to experience the sound. Furthermore, seeing that higher-frequency sounds are associated with the consonant sounds of speech, high-frequency hearing loss damages your ability to grasp and follow conversations.

There are a few other, less prevalent patterns of hearing loss that can show up on the audiogram, but that’s probably too much detail for this entry.

Test Your New Knowledge

You now know the essentials of how to read an audiogram. So go ahead, arrange that hearing test and impress your hearing specialist with your newfound talents. And just imagine the look on their face when you tell them all about your high frequency hearing loss before they even say a word.

How to Persuade Someone to Get a Hearing Test

We don’t need to explain to you the signs of hearing loss; you already know them all too well. You have a completely different type of problem: persuading someone you care for to get their hearing assessed and treated.

But exactly how are you expected to get through to someone who denies there is even an issue, or that simply shrugs it off as “just part of getting old”?

It turns out that it’s not as easy as just telling them that they need their hearing tested. They will not see the need, and you won’t get very far using threats, ultimatums, or other coercive techniques.

Even though it may seem like an impossible situation, there are other, more discreet techniques you can employ. In fact, you can draw from the sizable body of social scientific research that shows which strategies of persuasion have been discovered to be the most consistently effective.

In other words, you can utilize tested, researched, and confirmed persuasive techniques that have been shown to actually work. It’s worth an attempt, right? And browsing the techniques might allow you to think of additional ideas.

With that in mind, the following are 6 scientifically tested techniques of persuasion and how you might use them to persuade a loved one to get their hearing tested:

1. Reciprocity

What it is:

The basic principle of reciprocity is very simple: if someone does a favor for you, you’re strongly compelled to return the favor for them.

How to use it:

Timing is everything. You plan on requesting your loved one to get their hearing checked at some point anyway, so why not render the request soon after you’ve done something special for them?

2. Commitment and Consistency

What it is:

We all have a deep psychological motivation to think and act consistently.

How to use it:

The trick is to begin with smaller commitments in advance of making the final request. If you begin by ordering your loved one to get a hearing test, you most likely won’t see much success.

Rather, ease into the topic by casually sharing an article on hearing loss and how prevalent it is. Without pointing out their own personal hearing loss, get them to disclose that hearing loss is a more prominent problem than they had thought.

Once they confess to some basic facts, it may be easier to discuss their own individual hearing loss, and they may be more likely to accept that they have a problem.

3. Social Proof

What it is:

We have a tendency to think in terms of “safety in numbers.” We have a tendency to conform to the crowd, and we assume that if plenty of other people are doing something, it must be trusted or beneficial.

How to use it:

There are at minimum two ways to utilize this technique. One way is to share articles on the many advantages of wearing hearing aids and how hearing aids elevate the quality of life for millions of individuals in the U.S. and around the globe.

The second way to use the strategy is to arrange a hearing test for yourself. Reveal to your loved one that you want to check on the health of your own hearing, but that you would have more confidence if they went with you and had their own examination.

4. Liking

What it is:

You’re more likely to be persuaded by people you personally like than by either a stranger or by someone you dislike.

How to use it:

Enlist the help of individuals you know your loved one likes or respects. Attempt to find that one person whom your loved one always seems to respond to, and have him or her talk about and recommend a hearing test.

5. Authority

What it is:

We tend to listen to and respect the feedback of those we think of as authority figures.

How to use it:

Share articles on how celebrities, athletes, and other prominent figures use and benefit from hearing aids. You can also share articles from legitimate sources that show the importance of having your hearing tested. As an example, the World Health Organization recently published an article titled “1.1 billion people at risk of hearing loss.”

6. Scarcity

What it is:

Scarcity brings about a sense of urgency when what we want is perceived as limited or in short supply. Scarcity creates the perception that, if we don’t act right away, we may lose something permanently.

How to use it:

Recent research has linked hearing loss to a number of dangerous conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease, dementia, memory impairment, and rapid cognitive decline. Hearing loss also gets worse as time passes, so the earlier it’s corrected, the better.

To use scarcity, share articles, such as our previous blog post titled 8 reasons hearing loss is more dangerous than you think, with your loved one. Show them that each day spent with untreated hearing loss worsens the hearing loss, deteriorates health, and heightens the risk of developing more serious conditions.


If all else fails, just give it to them straight. Explain to your loved ones how their hearing loss affects you, in conjunction with how it’s impacting your relationship. When you make it about your needs and feelings rather than theirs, the response is usually better.

Have you had success persuading someone to have their hearing tested? Let us know your approach in a comment.

Source

The six principles of persuasion were developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini, and can be found in his book titled “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.”

5 Reasons Why People Deny Hearing Loss

It takes the average person with hearing loss 5 to 7 years before seeking a professional diagnosis, despite the reality that the signs and symptoms of hearing loss are very clear to others. But are those with hearing loss merely too stubborn to get help? No, actually, and for a couple of different reasons.

Maybe you know someone with hearing loss who either denies the problem or declines to seek professional help, and despite the fact that this is no doubt frustrating, it is very possible that the symptoms of hearing loss are much more obvious to you than they are to them.

Here are the reasons why:

1. Hearing loss is gradual

In most scenarios, hearing loss unfolds so gradually that the affected individual simply doesn’t realize the change. While you would perceive an instant change from normal hearing to a 25 decibel hearing loss (classified as moderate hearing loss), you wouldn’t detect the minuscule change of a 1-2 decibel loss.

So a slow loss of 1-2 decibels over the course of 10-20 years, while resulting in a 20-40 total decibel loss, is not going to be noticeable at any given moment in time for those impacted. That’s why friends and family are nearly always the first to recognize hearing loss.

2. Hearing loss is often partial (high-frequency only)

The majority of hearing loss examples are classified as high-frequency hearing loss, which means that the affected individual can still hear low-frequency background sounds normally. Although speech, which is a high-frequency sound, is difficult for those with hearing loss to follow, other sounds can usually be heard normally. This is why it’s not uncommon for those with hearing loss to assert, “my hearing is fine, everyone else mumbles.”

3. Hearing loss is not attended to by the family doctor

People struggling with hearing loss can get a false sense of well-being after their annual physical. It’s common to hear people state “if I had hearing loss, my doctor would have told me.”

This is of course not true because only 14% of physicians routinely test for hearing loss during the annual checkup. Not to mention that the foremost symptom for the majority of cases of hearing loss — difficulty following speech in the presence of background noise — will not present itself in a tranquil office environment.

4. The burden of hearing loss can be shared or passed on to others

How do you manage hearing loss when there’s no cure? The answer is straight forward: amplify sounds. The issue is, although hearing aids are the most effective at amplifying sounds, they are not the only way to accomplish it — which people with hearing loss quickly identify.

Those with hearing loss often crank up the volume on everything, to the detriment of those around them. Tv sets and radios are played exceptionally loud and people are made to either scream or repeat themselves. The individual with hearing loss can get by just fine with this technique, but only by passing on the burden to friends, family members, and co-workers.

5. Hearing loss is painless and invisible

Hearing loss is mainly subjective: it cannot be diagnosed by visible investigation and it normally is not accompanied by any pain or discomfort. If those with hearing loss do not recognize a problem, chiefly due to the reasons above, then they most likely won’t take action.

The only way to accurately diagnose hearing loss is through audiometry, which will calculate the specific decibel level hearing loss at different sound frequencies. This is the only method to objectively determine whether hearing loss is present, but the challenging part is needless to say getting to that point.

How to approach those with hearing loss

Hopefully, this article has generated some empathy. It is always frustrating when someone with hearing loss refuses to acknowledge the problem, but remember, they may legitimately not understand the severity of the problem. As an alternative to demanding that they get their hearing tested, a more reliable strategy may be to educate them on the characteristics of hearing loss that make the condition essentially invisible.

Exploring a Career in the Hearing Care Profession

While the majority of us keep up to date with our yearly physical, dental cleaning, and eye examination, we usually fail to give thought to the health of our hearing. And when our hearing does start to deteriorate, it happens so slowly and gradually that we scarcely notice and fail to take action. It’s this lack of interaction with hearing care professionals that makes people curious to know what the profession actually involves.

And that’s a shame, because hearing care professionals serve as an essential part of the healthcare system. It’s through the hearing care professional that the proper operation of one of our primary senses — one for which we often tend to take for granted — is preserved or repaired.

Seeing that we take hearing for granted, we often fail to realize just how invaluable hearing is. With accurate hearing, we can maximize focus, savor the details of sound, converse better, and strengthen working relationships. And the hearing care professionals are the ones who ensure that this fundamental sense is functioning correctly.

If you’d like to know more about this important but little-known healthcare field — or if you’re thinking of entering the field yourself — read on.

Attraction to the hearing care field

Hearing care professionals are attracted to the field for numerous reasons, but a few key motivating factors are consistently present. First, several practitioners have experienced, and continue to endure, hearing troubles themselves. Considering the fact that they were themselves helped by a hearing care professional, the need to return the favor for other individuals is powerful.

For instance, Zoe Williams, a hearing care professional practicing in Australia, has moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears. This could have caused an inability to communicate, but thanks to cochlear implants and hearing aids, Zoe is now able to communicate normally. Realizing from experience how enhanced hearing leads to a better life, Zoe was determined to enter the field and to assist others in the same manner.

Other individuals are drawn into the hearing care field on account of its distinctive blend of counseling, problem solving, science, and technology. In combination with studying the science of hearing and the engineering of hearing technology, practitioners also learn how to work with individuals in the role of a counselor. Dealing with hearing loss is a sensitive situation, and patients present a variety of emotions and personalities. Practitioners must be able to use the “soft skills” required to deal with these difficulties and must work with patients on an individual level to conquer hearing loss.

Training and education

Part of the overall appeal of working in the hearing care profession is the intriguing mix of subjects included as part of the schooling and training. Those pursuing a career in the field study fascinating topics in a range of fields such as:

  • Biology – topics include the anatomy and physiology of hearing, balance, the ear, and the brain, in addition to instruction in hearing and balance disorders and pharmacology.
  • Physics – topics include the physics of sound, acoustics, and psychoacoustics (how the brain processes sound).
  • Engineering – topics include the development and functioning of hearing technology such as assistive listening devices, hearing aids, and cochlear implants, as well as the programming of digital hearing aids.
  • Counseling – topics include how to interview patients, how to teach coping skills, and how to train on the use of hearing aids, along with other fascinating topics in psychology and counseling.
  • Professional practice – topics include diagnosing hearing problems, carrying out and interpreting hearing tests, implementing hearing treatments, fitting and programming hearing aids, professional ethics, and running a business.

Job functions

Hearing care professionals work in various kinds of settings (schools, hospitals, private practices) performing various tasks such as research, teaching, and diagnosing and treating hearing and balance conditions.

Normal duties involve carrying out diagnostic tests, interpreting hearing tests, and working with patients on choosing the optimal hearing treatment, in many cases including the use of hearing aids. Hearing care professionals custom-fit and program hearing aids to best fit the individual and will educate the patient on how to use and maintain them. Hearing care professionals also work with employers and businesses to protect against hearing damage in noisy work conditions.

Benefits

The benefits reported most regularly by those in the hearing care profession center on the capacity to positively impact people’s lives on a very personal level. Lifelong friendships between patients and hearing specialists are also typical as a result of the personal nature of care.

When patients state that they can hear again for the first time in years, the emotions can be intense. Patients frequently describe a feeling of reconnection to the world and to family, along with improved relationships and an elevated overall quality of life.

How many vocations can claim that kind of personal impact?