Experiencing hearing loss? It might be time to see an audiologist
By: Cecelia Ward, AuD, CCC-A, FAAA
An estimated 48 million Americans have hearing loss. Hearing loss can be identified at birth or develop at any age. If you or a loved one is experiencing hearing loss, an audiologist can suggest a treatment plan for you.
What is an audiologist?
Audiologists are licensed healthcare professionals who evaluate, diagnose, and treat hearing and balance disorders. Most audiologists earn a doctor of audiology degree after 8 years of education and clinical training. Audiologists can work in clinics, ear, nose, and throat (ENT) physician offices, schools, private practice, hospitals, and residential care facilities.
HASA audiologists are trained to work with children and adults of all ages. We currently provide services at HASA’s clinic, several local residential care facilities, and a local pediatric hospital. We also provide hearing screenings at health fairs, schools, and workplaces in the Baltimore area. Our expertise, compassion, and specialized equipment allow us to modify testing and treatment to each individual’s needs. Whenever possible, we involve loved ones and support people in the process as well.
When should I see an audiologist?
Regardless of age or other factors, one should see an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation if there is any concern about hearing.
For children, a hearing evaluation is recommended if there are any speech, language, or academic concerns, as hearing is an integral component of communication and education. Your child’s pediatrician or school may also complete routine hearing screenings. A referral will be made to an audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation if any concerns arise during the hearing screening.
The American Speech Language Hearing Association recommends everyone have their hearing checked once every 10 years until age 50, and every 3 years after that.
For adults aged 60 and over, a baseline hearing evaluation is a good idea if you haven’t had one already. If hearing loss is identified, an annual re-evaluation is recommended along with treatment options. If no hearing concerns are noted on the baseline test, it is recommended to have a re-evaluation every 1-2 years to monitor for changes in hearing. Hearing can often change gradually over time, so many people may not notice hearing loss until many years after it begins.
What happens during my first audiology appointment?
Your history: Your audiologist will ask about any concerns you may have with your hearing, as well as your medical history. Some medical conditions and medications may affect hearing, and this information can help the audiologist tailor your treatment plan to your specific needs.
The exam: It’s completely painless! You will spend 30 minutes to an hour with the audiologist, depending on the type of testing and treatment you may need. Your audiologist will look in your ears with an otoscope to check for any issues, such as a build up of earwax. They will also evaluate your eardrum and middle ear function by putting a soft tip in your ear. Next, you will be asked to respond each time you hear a sound (they sound like beeps). You will also be asked to repeat words at different loudness levels.
The results: The audiologist will sit down and go over the results with you. If your results show hearing loss, your audiologist will make a treatment plan with you. If appropriate, they may recommend hearing aids for you. At HASA, we offer hearing aid demonstrations in the office so that you can experience first-hand what it is like to listen with hearing aids.
If you have any concerns about your hearing, contact HASA to schedule an evaluation at (410)318-6780.