What is a hearing care professional?

Finding a good hearing care professional is an important first step in managing hearing loss, but who are hearing care professionals and what do they do?  Hearing care professionals are specially and uniquely trained in the treatment of hearing and balance. Regardless of which type of hearing care professional you see, he or she can match you with the hearing aids that are appropriate for your hearing loss, and provide support to help you get the most from their use.

Hearing care professionals

Audiologist

An individual with a Master’s degree or doctorate degree in audiology. Audiologists identify, assess and treat disorders of the hearing and balance systems.  They can select, fit and dispense hearing aids and other related devices. They can also program cochlear implants, provide instruction, rehabilitation and counseling services to help communication.

Hearing aid specialist

An individual who is certified by the National Board of Certification in Hearing Aid Sciences to test for hearing loss, fit hearing aids and provide care and counseling to people with hearing loss.

Ear-Nose-Throat doctor (ENT)

Medical doctors who are board certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology. They specialize in diseases of the ear, nose and throat. An ENT is able to perform and supervise hearing and balance testing, as well as prescribe medications, perform surgery and select, fit and dispense hearing aids and other hearing devices.

What to expect during your first consultation

A full professional hearing evaluation usually takes less than an hour.

1. Your hearing care professional will probably start by asking you a few questions about your general health and lifestyle, and the health of your ears.

2. Next, he’ll look into your ear to examine the canal that runs to the eardrum. He’ll be looking for more clues about your hearing health. The ear examination doesn’t hurt at all.

3. For the actual test you’ll be asked to wear headphones and listen to a series of tones to evaluate the sensitivity of your hearing at different frequency levels.

The hearing test results are shown on an audiogram, a graph that, in most cases, will be presented to you right after the test. If you do have a hearing loss, your hearing care professional will be able to tell you if it can be treated with a hearing aid, and if so, which type of hearing aid will suit you best.

What is an audiogram

When your specialist describes your hearing loss, he or she will always refer to the severity of the loss and its “configuration”, which means the pitches or frequencies you are unable to hear. These tones will be placed on a graph called an audiogram. 
 
An audiogram shows which frequencies you are able to hear, and at what volume. The audiogram gives your hearing professional a good idea of how severe your hearing loss is, and helps your professional select the best treatment options for you.

What if I have hearing loss?

The hearing evaluation will give you a clear idea of whether you have a hearing loss. If you do have a hearing loss, your hearing care professional will be able to tell you if it can be treated with a hearing aid, and if so, which type of hearing aid will suit you best. 

There are different types of hearing aids. The type of hearing loss you have, your lifestyle and your personal preferences in color and style will all influence the hearing aids you ultimately purchase. 

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