Seeing an audiologist before buying a hearing aid will minimize the risk of spending too much or too little on hearing aids or risk missing medical conditions that could cause or co-occur with hearing difficulties.
Correct identification of the underlying cause of hearing trouble can predict success with hearing aids. It provides evidence for, or against, every feature available in different hearing aids which directly affects cost.
Additionally, your audiologist is the only professional licensed to diagnose hearing loss, test for and differentiate hearing disorders, including suspicion of more concerning medical conditions co-occurring with hearing loss.
Hearing aid dispensers can sell hearing aids but they are not licensed to diagnose hearing loss. Hearing aid dispensers can perform only basic hearing measures used in hearing aid adjustments.
Hearing aid recommendations should be made only after a correct hearing diagnosis from an audiologist. This hearing assessment will evaluate the integrity of the entire auditory system, known as central auditory processing, and is a better reflection of functional “listening” ability.
Testing may include:
- understanding speech in background noise
- working memory impairment associated with cognitive impairments
- ability to detect timing changes in sound (speech)
- assessment of middle ear problems
- identification of sound sensitivity disorders such as hypersensitivity to sound and tinnitus
- measures to rule in or out suspicion of acoustic or vestibular tumors or disease which can create hearing loss
Because there are many disorders of the auditory system and each have different effects on listening ability, including more serious medical pathologies, time should be taken to get a thorough hearing diagnosis before buying a hearing aid. The correct hearing aid should provide many years of successful use with appropriate levels of expectation and satisfaction.