Why Do You Need to See an AUDIOLOGIST?
Having problems hearing?
I grew up in a hard-of-hearing family and spend many years of my career in different universities doing research in the field of hearing disorders and hearing aid technologies as well as teaching and training our future audiologists. For the past several years that I have been living in Rossmoor and starting my own private practice, I have seen and heard from many hearing-impaired people who are extremely unhappy with their hearing aids, aren’t wearing them and getting isolated in their homes and getting disconnected with their families.
I started questioning as why, with all the advances in the field of audiology and hearing aid technology, there are so many unhappy users of the hearing aids. I am NOT advocating that hearing aids are magical devices. However, hearing aid technology has improved significantly for the past 31 years that I have been in the field of audiology.
Hearing aids will NOT return your hearing sensitivity to level as you were in your 20s or 30s. However, it will AID your hearing and improve the quality of your life and your communication with your family and friends significantly.
Hearing aid advertisements can be misleading for the average hearing-aid shopper. Not all practices that sell hearing aids employ audiologists. Most hearing-aid offices employ hearing aid dispensers, which are not audiologists. Many hearing-aid dispensers have not gone through many extensive years of audiology training at the master’s or doctorate level as audiologists do. There are also hearing aid dispensers with a master’s or a doctorate degree in a completely DIFFERENT field than audiology. People have to be careful that the person who is taking care of their hearing problem is an AUDIOLOGIST and not someone with a degree that is NOT related to the field of AUDIOLOGY.
A majority of audiologists work with many hearing-aid companies and they will prescribe the best-suited hearing aids for their patients among many available companies. However, majority of hearing aid dispensers are working ONLY with ONE hearing aid company and that company gives them a lower price. The hearing aid companies assist hearing aid dispensers with their advertising and equipment expenses.
People who are seeking the highest level of hearing health care should always ask if the practice employs an AUDIOLOGIST who will be testing and caring for their needs. Having a thorough, clinically valid and reliable audiological evaluation and proper programming and adjusting a hearing aid fit for the specific need of each patient is crucial to the success of the hearing-aid user. Once the device is fit properly, care and maintenance of the device has to be taught in order to keep the device functioning at optimal levels.
Rehabilitation and counseling regarding effective communication techniques as well as counseling the person with hearing loss on how to use the hearing aid in different listening situations can sometimes be the most difficult part of acclimating to new hearing aids.
by Mimi T. Salamat, Ph.D., CCC-A, FAAA
Clinical Audiologist and Tinnitus Specialist
Walnut Creek, CA