Hearing Loss Information
Lifestyle Hearing Network members

What do I do if I have a hearing loss? lifestyle hearing

If you have been noticing that your hearing is not as sharp as it used to be, you are not alone. There are more than 2.4 million North Americans who experience hearing loss to the degree that it negatively impacts their social lives*, family interactions, or work performance. Treating your hearing loss is absolutely vital.

Purchasing hearing aids can be a reviving experience that sets you on your way to a new lifestyle. One that allows you to better perceive your surroundings, and enjoy all life has to offer.

Lifestyle Hearing recommends following these four steps to better hearing care:

Make an appointment with an Audiologist

You can either visit your doctor to tell him/her about your hearing problem, or go directly to an audiologist to have your hearing assessed. Your family medical doctor will recommend you to either an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat doctor) or an audiologist or a hearing instrument specialist(also called hearing-instrument practitioners in some provinces). Audiologists have a minimum of a Master’s Degree in Audiology and are specially trained to identify and assess hearing disorders and dysfunctions. Hearing Instrument Specialists have up to three years of community college training and are trained to conduct a series of tests to determine if hearing loss is present. Canadian provinces have different regulations concerning which type of professional is allowed to test all populations and dispense hearing aids, but both will be able to help you. It is a good idea to ensure that the professional’s clinic is in a convenient location and has office hours that suit your needs. Also, ask the office if they perform walk-in repairs, and provide hearing rehabilitation services such as counselling and support groups. Check out our clinic locator to find out where the closest Lifestyle Hearing clinic is to you.

Get Your Hearing Assessed

Thorough hearing evaluations are very important in order to accurately determine the level of your hearing loss and then to ensure that the prescribed aids are functioning properly. An initial meeting with your hearing care professional will establish your hearing loss profile. You will walk into a soundproof booth and acknowledge whether or not you can hear words and tones played at various pitches and volumes. A comprehensive evaluation should include other tests also; you might be asked to listen to speech while a noisy recording plays. You might be asked to repeat words the tester says with and without being able to see her lips move. You might be asked questions about how your hearing difficulty affects your everyday life. It is a good idea to inform your hearing care professional about aspects of your lifestyle that will require you to hear properly, such as whether or not you talk on the phone a lot or socialize in restaurants often. Your hearing loss will be displayed on an audiogram, a graph which illustrates how well you hear for the various pitches or sound spectrum that are important for speech understanding . When you are fitted with your hearing aids, more tests should be performed to ensure that they are performing optimally. Make sure your professional performs a real-ear test, which measures the match between your hearing loss and the response of your hearing aid.

Educate Yourself About the Product

Hearing aids, which digitally process sound, amplify it, and then deliver it into the ear, come in five types: open fit products, completely-in-the-canal (CIC), in-the-canal (ITC), in-the-ear (ITE), and behind- the-ear (BTE). All of them have pros and cons and their suitability can depend on the severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle and shape of your ear. A Lifestyle Hearing professional can work with you to find the device that best suits your hearing environment and meets your personal needs. Also, a hearing aid’s features are something you will want to find out about. Some of them can greatly benefit your lifestyle, while others might be unimportant to you. Some of the more practical features include telecoil, which amplifies sound from your phone without picking up background noise; directional microphone, which helps you converse in noisy environments; and feedback suppression, which helps quell squeals when your aid gets too close to the phone or has a loose-fitting ear mold. Other features that can be convenient include: digital noise reduction, low-battery indicator, power-on delay, wax guard, automatic volume control, vents, manual volume control, direct audio input, and Bluetooth capability. Style can also be a factor that affects your decision making, and Lifestyle Hearing has access to all the latest designs in hearing aids. Hearing devices now come in various colours, shapes, and sizes and product lines offer several choices and customizable features that match your personal requirements.

Book a Follow Up Appointment (sometimes called a verification appointment)

This is an important step that, unfortunately, not all consumers bother to go through. It allows the hearing care professional to make final adjustments according to your needs after you’ve had a chance to wear the hearing aids for a period of time. This can include changing the device’s electronic settings, reworking an uncomfortable ear mould, or even getting a completely different hearing aid.

*Corporation for National & Community Service: Understanding physical and mental disabilities associated with an aging population, sourced August 3, 2010.