February 4, 2010

Ask the Audiologist

margaretBy Margaret Christiansen, AU.D, CCC-A
Audiology Consultants, P.C.

I am interested in hearing aids. How soon can I get them? What is the typical process?

Deciding to purchase hearing aids is a big decision and one that, in many cases, takes a little time. Typically, it takes about two weeks from when the hearing aids are ordered until they are fit.

The first step is to come in for a complete hearing test and hearing aid evaluation. During this consultation, the audiologist will evaluate your hearing loss and explain how and why your hearing loss is impacting communication. The audiologist will also present and explain current hearing aid technology, discuss realistic expectations, and help you decide which hearing aid technology is best suited for you.

There are many hearing aids available. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes as well as ranges of technology. There is no one perfect hearing aid for everyone. The amount of loss, lifestyle, personal preferences, needs and expectations all go into making this decision.

After a decision is made, a hearing aid can be ordered. If the hearing aid fits in the ear or has a custom earmold, an impression needs to be taken of the ear so the aid can be custom made for the individual. The process of developing the hearing aid or earmold typically takes about two weeks. During the time your hearing aid is being made, we will work with your family doctor to obtain medial clearance for hearing aid use.

Open fit hearing aids are a type of behind the ear hearing aid which do not require a custom mold. These generally can be obtained faster than custom products and, therefore, may be able to be fit sooner.

When you are fit with your hearing aids, the audiologist will perform testing that measures how your hearing aids react to different levels of speech and sounds while in your ear. This better helps us to adjust hearing aids to each individual and ensure we are providing the appropriate amount of amplification from each hearing aid.

We like to follow up with patients after approximately two weeks of hearing aid use to make sure the individual is adapting and adjusting well to the hearing aids. The need for fine tuning of hearing aids is very common and this follow up appointment is a good time to start this.

Obtaining hearing aids is a big step and one that your audiologist is ready to help you with.