Nearly 15 percent of American adults (37.5 million) age 18 and over declare trouble hearing, and almost 29 million U.S. adults will benefit from hearing aids.
Hearing loss is not an uncommon problem, and we are affected whether it is someone we know—or ourselves—who could benefit from a hearing evaluation conducted by a professional.
Some common complaints include hearing but not understanding what is being said, increased difficulty following a conversation surrounded by outside noise, family or friends pointing out that the TV is too loud, or feeling the need to frequently ask, “What?”
“A thorough hearing evaluation is the only way to verify a hearing loss, and the extent of the loss,” informs state licensed audiologist and hearing aid dispenser Lorie Frazee who owns Hearing Services Center in Lodi. “The evaluations are performed in an OSHA certified soundproof booth with the patient wearing headphones through much of the test.”
Once the straightforward evaluation is complete a hearing specialist goes over the results with the patient. “Each individual has different communication demands and needs. Everyone has different tolerances and preferences for sound, different expectations,” explains Lorie. “My approach is to educate when needed, set realistic expectations, all while addressing the individual goals of the person sitting across from me.”
A specialist identifies the person’s listening lifestyle, which is fundamental in guiding them to the technology that will best suit the acoustic environments where they live and work. “I compare hearing aid technology to a cell phone or computer technology. There are different levels of complexity and function. There are different sizes and styles that house the technology. These options are determined primarily by the hearing evaluation results, then the listening lifestyle, and personal preference. As with most electronics, hearing aids are much smaller than they were a decade ago, so most styles are aesthetically pleasing,” informs Lorie.
The fit of a hearing aid needs to be comfortable and appealing to the wearer regardless of style. With new software programs, fitting a hearing aid is simple with a trained audiologist. With the appropriate amplification set along with specific hearing aid software, the patient will hear better.
“Most hearing aids will automatically adjust to emphasize speech. The sensitivity of a hearing aid is dependent on the technology and how the audiologist programs it. Some have no manual adjustments, it depends on the individual needs of the person being fit. Many hearing aids now have connectivity to cell phones and other devices,” explains Lorie.
If you would like to have your hearing checked by a professional, you can call your family doctor and ask for a referral.