If you’ve noticed that you’re not hearing as well as you used to and have decided it’s time to have your hearing tested, here are 7 questions to ask your audiologist to ensure you get the best possible outcome.

FImage result for hearing trouble"irst off, congratulations on being proactive with your hearing health.  Untreated hearing loss can put you at risk for a variety of other health-related problems, such as depression and cognitive decline.   When you go in for your appointment, your initial hearing evaluation will most likely consist of three parts:

  • A conversation about your health history
  • A physical examination of your inner and outer ears
  • A series of tests designed to determine your levels of hearing and speech comprehension

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Once the audiologist reviews and explains your test results, it’s your turn to ask some hearing loss questions. We’ve assembled some of the more basic ones below in a “print and take-along” format (or pull it up on your phone) so you can have it at your appointment and ask your audiologist or hearing instrument specialist.

1. What type of hearing loss do I have? Do you anticipate my hearing will change or get worse?

Understanding which type of hearing loss you have will help determine what type of treatment you need as well as how to protect your remaining hearing.

There are three different types of hearing loss:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear or to the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain. This type of hearing loss is usually permanent and can often be treated with hearing devices. It often results in high-frequency hearing loss.
  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound doesn’t travel effectively through the outer ear canal to the eardrum. Many times this is due to a blockage such as an ear infection, allergies, ear wax or a benign tumor. Hearing is often restored after the blockage is removed.
  • Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. You may have either one — or a combination of both.

2. Do both ears have the same hearing loss?

Just like you may be able to see better in one eye than the other, you also be able to hear better in one ear vs. the other.  In fact, according to a recent study conducted by Yvonne Sininger of the University of California at Los Angeles, the left and right ear actually hear differently from one another. The left ear is better at receiving information from music, emotion and intuition while the right ear is more tuned in to speech and logic. That may explain why those with greater hearing loss in the left ear may find themselves less able to understand a family member’s moods or arguments while those with greater hearing loss in the right ear may lose some of their logical reasoning abilities.

3. Do I need a hearing aid for both ears?

While you might not think you need to wear hearing aids in both ears, ask your hearing healthcare professional. You may not, depending on the severity of your hearing loss, but if you do they can explain why it’s easier for your brain to interpret sound better with amplification in both ears. And if you do need two hearings aids instead of one, take heart. According to the Better Hearing Institute, about 90 percent of patients need hearing aids for both ears.

Image result for audiologist hearing aid"4. Which hearing aid is best for my particular type of hearing loss and lifestyle?

There are a variety of hearing aid types and styles on the market today, each with features designed to fit specific types of hearing loss as well as unique lifestyles. The more information you give the audiologist about your daily activities and listening environments, the more likely he/she will be to recommend the best hearing device for you. Take a few minutes before your appointment to list the things you like to do on a daily and weekly basis — include recreational activities as well as social situations and your work environment. This will help you cover all the bases when it’s time to ask this particular question.

5. Once I purchase hearing aids, will I have any additional costs?

Depending upon where you purchase your hearing aids, there may or may not be additional costs for follow up hearing care. Some hearing centers include the price of adjustments, repairs, batteries and check-ups while others do not.   Make sure you understand what is included so you can budget for the remaining costs, if necessary.

6. How long will these hearing aids last?

Like any piece of electronic equipment, hearing aids will eventually wear out. And, although the audiologist won’t be able to tell you exactly how long they will last, they may be able to give you a good idea. Asking this question also opens up another good conversation about how to care for your hearing devices so that you can maximize their performance and life span.

7. What type of warranty is available for these hearing devices?

Different hearing device manufacturers have different warranties for their products. Knowing the warranty basics for your particular devices gives you the knowledge you need to determine whether or not to purchase additional insurance or make sure they are protected from loss and theft through your homeowners’ policy.