HEARING CARE

10 Questions to Ask Your Audiologist

By Team Hearzap | June 19, 2024

Audiologist Consultation

Hearing impairments are not so uncommon anymore. Thanks to all the unhealthy and unregulated listening habits—like blasting your favourite music at full volume on your headphones, or you may blame it on your neighbour for playing music deafeningly loud into the night. No matter what the cause, the result is still the same.

Did you know the WHO has predicted that worldwide, over a Billion people are at risk of developing some type of hearing loss? Now, this might seem scary to you, and you might want to consult a hearing care professional at this very moment. And you might also have a few questions propping up in your head, regarding your hearing care situation. Whether you are looking forward to your first appointment with your audiologist, or the 10th, we have got you covered.

We have compiled below a list of 10 questions that you should be asking your hearing care professional and get them answered.

1.How is Hearing Loss Diagnosed?

Your audiologist will perform an audiogram, which is a type of hearing screening. You will be asked to wear a pair of headphones and sounds will be played to you, one ear at a time. Simultaneously, you will be asked to respond to each sound that you are able to hear. If you cannot hear a particular sound, then it indicates that there is some level of hearing loss.

2.Who is an Audiologist?

Audiologists are trained professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating hearing loss and hearing-related issues. It is important to distinguish between an audiologist and an ENT doctor. ENT doctors are trained to perform surgery on your ears, whereas audiologists are not. Audiologists are trained to help you manage your hearing loss.

3.What Type of Hearing Loss Do I Have?

Depending on your hearing screening, your audiologist will determine what type of hearing loss you have. Hearing loss can be categorised into 3 main types - sensorineural, conductive, and mixed hearing loss.

  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss: It is the most common type of hearing loss where tiny hairs in the inner ear are damaged. These hairs are responsible for the conversion of sound waves to electricity. Damage to the auditory nerve which is responsible for the transmission of electrical impulses to the brain is also classified under sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Conductive Hearing Loss: Here, the conduction of sound waves to the inner ear is disrupted.
  • Mixed Hearing Loss: This is a blend between the elements of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss.

4.Is My Hearing Loss Permanent?

If you have been diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, it indicates that your hearing loss is permanent. This is mainly due to the fact that your auditory nerve and the tiny hairs in your inner ear are damaged, either due to infection, medication, or old age. Since these hairs are extremely tiny and delicate, there exists no treatment to repair them to improve your hearing. However, in some cases, it is also possible that 5.What Caused My Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can be caused by various physical ailments like Otosclerosis, Presbycusis, Meniere’s disease, Acoustic Neuroma, severe head injury, and being exposed to extremely loud noises.

  • Otosclerosis: This disease affects the middle region of the ear. The bones in this region cannot move easily, causing a disruption in the transmission of sound.
  • Presbycusis: This is a sensorineural hearing condition, common among older people. Patients may feel the need to turn up the volume to find it audible. In some cases, they may hear muffled sounds.
  • Meniere’s Disease: This disease affects the inner region of the ear. Although the cause is unknown, it generally affects people in the age group of 30-50 years. The patient may develop irritability to loud noise. Hearing loss may be inconsistent, but if left untreated, the loss can become permanent.
  • Acoustic Neuroma: This is a condition which involves a tumour aiming to damage the ear. This may cause the person to experience a ringing in the ear and may feel a sense of ‘fullness’ in the ear cavity.
  • Very Loud Noise: Exposure to extremely loud noises is painful and can cause hearing loss. However, there may be cases where the hearing loss happens over a period of time while the person hardly notices any pain in the ear.
  • Head Injury Trauma: In cases of severe head injury, it is possible that the ears are damaged. A perforated eardrum or damage to the middle ear can result in hearing loss.
  • Hereditary Causes: Sometimes, hearing loss can be a result of hereditary transmission. In such cases, hearing aids can be used.

6.Will My Hearing Loss Get Worse Over Time?

This depends on the cause of your hearing loss—whether it is age-induced or noise-induced.

  • Age-induced Hearing Loss: In the case of presbycusis, which is age-induced hearing loss, it is highly likely that your hearing loss will worsen as you get older.
  • Noise-induced Hearing Loss: Even if you are young, and are constantly exposed to loud noises, either due to unhealthy listening habits on your headphones or during transit, it is possible that your hearing will deteriorate with time.

7.Will I Need to Wear Hearing Aids?

This decision lies at the sole discretion of your audiologist; that is if you don’t prefer over-the-counter hearing aids which aren’t well-programmed and well-fit for your hearing needs. If your audiologist has prescribed hearing aids for you, then by all means you must wear them—even if you are home alone and talking to nobody, or taking a break from music and entertainment. The primary motive behind getting you to wear hearing aids is to avoid ‘brain atrophy’.

Brain atrophy is a condition that arises in the absence of impulses to the part of the brain responsible for a particular function. In this context, if your ears aren’t transmitting signals to your brain, then the auditory cortex in your brain will not function well, and eventually, it may shut off its function completely. Once this happens, it becomes extremely difficult to re-activate your auditory cortex and get it to function again.

8.What Type of Hearing Aids Will Suit Me the Best?

The type of hearing aids that are suitable for you may depend on the prescription given to you by your audiologist and on your budget. However, you can choose the colour and style of your hearing aids if you prefer customization and personalization.

  • Behind-The-Ear: They are big on battery and sit comfortably right behind your ear. If you’re not shy of using your hearing aids as fashion accessories, then BTE hearing aids are a good option.
  • Receiver-In-Ear: As the name suggests, these hearing aids have a receiver that extends from the upper edge of the device right into your ear. These hearing aids are stylish and fashionable to sport as well.
  • Completely-In-Canal: These devices are tinier compared to the BTE and RIC hearing aids. They fit into your ear canal and are comfortable to wear. If you prefer something tiny yet powerful in your ears, then these hearing aids are a good buy.
  • Invisible-In-Canal: These devices are completely out-of-sight, as the name suggests and they fit snugly into your ear canal. If you prefer something small, powerful and invisible that can help you hear better, then look no further.
  • Rechargeable: These hearing aids come with a rechargeable case that you can rely on. Don’t forget to put your hearing aids back into the case before you go to bed.

9.How Should I Care For My Ears?

Taking care of your ears is as simple as following a few simple steps such as

  • Avoiding exposure to loud noise wherever possible.
  • Avoiding listening to music above safe levels.
  • Using earplugs in noisy situations that cannot be avoided.

10.Will Hearing Aids Restore My Hearing to Normal?

Unfortunately, hearing aids cannot restore your hearing to normal levels. However, they are designed to meet your hearing requirements and significantly enhance your hearing experience.

In Conclusion

By asking these highly recommended questions to your audiologist, you can establish a clear line of communication and understand the many aspects of hearing care. By being prepared with your list of questions, you can gain a different perspective on hearing care. This will allow you to act as a participant in the treatment process, and not just as a patient. Please feel free to book a free consultation with our expert audiologist today and get all your questions answered regarding hearing care.

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