The process is simple — most evaluations consist of four steps:
Your ears will be visually examined with an otoscope, and you'll be tested with state-of-the-art equipment to determine the type of hearing loss you have. Your results will be illustrated in an audiogram that the hearing professional will walk through with you.
When a person is examined by an audiologist or licensed specialist, more than hearing is evaluated. First, a case history is taken to help describe a person’s general health and specific information concerning a person’s hearing history. Then, a physical examination of the ear determines if there are anatomical problems. Next, a group of routine tests is used to compare hearing ability and ear function to that of other people in the same age group. Basic tests can be classified as participation tests and non-participation tests, and sometimes advanced tests are required.
One of the most fundamental participation tests is pure-tone audiometry, where a headset is placed over the head with earphones for each ear. The patient listens to beeps, known as pure-tone sounds, and responds if and when a sound is heard. Next, the audiologist uses complex sounds and speech and asks the patient to repeat a series of words. When young children are tested, it may be necessary to engage the child in a form of playful activity, which is referred to as play-audiometry, in order to determine how well a child hears and uses sounds.
Non-participation tests only require the patient to follow simple instructions. Information about the ear and hearing system is collected using technology, such as an acoustic immittance test. This test measures information about the eardrum, the status of the middle ear (for example, if there is a presence of unwanted middle ear fluid), and the functioning of the bones in the middle ear. Other advanced non-participation tests are sometimes used to measure and assess how well the ear and balance system are functioning.
When an audiologist or licensed specialist suspects a hearing or ear problem, it may be necessary to use advanced tests to determine the nature and degree of the problems affecting the hearing system. These tests measure the functioning of the ear when neural problems need to be evaluated. Advanced tests are often used with people who have difficulty with tests requiring participation. Advanced tests may include:
Without the effective use of your sensory systems, you may become isolated and your quality of life may be compromised. If you suspect you have a hearing, ear or balance problem, contact an audiologist or licensed specialist for an examination. They will administer painless tests that measure your hearing, ears and/or balance functioning, and the test results can be used to improve your life.
Your hearing professional will want to know the types of sound environments you frequent, the activities you enjoy, and will ask other lifestyle-related questions to help customize the best solution.
If it's determined that hearing aids can help, your hearing professional will show you the best solutions to fit your unique needs and lifestyle.
You and your hearing professional will discuss pricing and payment options. To see the process in action, watch the "Your Hearing Journey" video on the right.
Hearing aid battery life depends on two main factors: the size of the battery and the amount of the current draw required by the hearing aid. Generally, the larger the battery the greater the battery life.
Many inexperienced hearing aid users are disappointed by the battery life of their new hearing aids. Keep in mind, hearing aid amplifiers draw heavy current loads, much heavier than required for simple watch circuits. A common everyday flashlight uses a standard size D battery which has 1.5 volts, very similar to the voltage of a hearing aid battery, but is a much larger size with much greater storage capacity. Still, imagine how long your flashlight would work if you turned it on continuously for 16 hours a day as is required for hearing aids!
It is recommended that you find out from your audiologist/or hearing specialist how long your hearing instrument batteries will last. Again, this depends on what type of hearing instrument that you have. Then, when you have to replace your first battery, mark this on your calendar (using the sticker from your battery works great!). Remember, to designate if this was the right or left instrument. Setting up this type of system for battery replacement will alleviate any anxiety you may have about your battery going dead. It is best to be prepared, so carrying batteries with you is always a good idea.
How do you know your hearing aid battery is getting weak? Some common signs include: weak output of your hearing aid, distortion, hearing aid feedback, cutting in and out or unusual sounds such as beeping or fluttering.
Everyone likes to get as many hours possible out of their batteries. Some of our patients report that after their old batteries lay around for a period of time they will reuse them because the batteries will sometimes “rejuvenate”. This is not recommended however, due to the fact that hearing aid batteries with weak voltages can fail at anytime. Also, many patients mistakenly mix up old batteries with new ones. It is best to just throw out hearing aid batteries when they become weak to avoid these problems.