Julie Stefanski, Au.D., F-AAA, is an audiologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Julie Stefanski, Au.D., F-AAA, is an audiologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

More than 36 million Americans experience hearing loss. Yet, many do not get help.

Many people will readily get glasses, but seem embarrassed about having their hearing evaluated. Some deny that they are having trouble, while others have family members or friends that have had negative experiences with hearing aids. It is important to know that everyone’s hearing loss and needs are unique. An audiologist can help you feel comfortable with understanding your particular type of hearing loss, and explain the different options that you have to get the best out of hearing aids.

The first step to improving your hearing is to schedule an evaluation with an audiologist. Here you will learn whether or not you have hearing loss and if so, what treatment options are available specifically for you.

There are many factors that make you unique:

  1. Hearing loss: There are many different types of hearing loss ranging from mild to profound in degree. Your ability to hear sounds at different pitches affects how you hear as a whole. You may hear better at some pitches than others. Every person not only hears differently, but you may understand some people’s voices better than others. If you have a mild hearing loss you will not benefit from the same hearing aids as someone with a severe to profound hearing loss. Different types of hearing loss affect the type of hearing aid that you need.
  2. Lifestyle: Lifestyle and environmental factors play a significant role in the selection of hearing aids. Hearing aid technology reflects different levels of performance and pricing. This process starts by talking with your audiologist about your typical listening situations, and determining what features would meet your listening needs. Will an entry-level hearing aid technology meet your needs, or would you benefit from advanced technology?
  3. Style of hearing aids: There are many options for styles of hearing aids. One style of hearing aid may be appropriate for one hearing loss but not another. Some other factors that are considered when selecting style of hearing aid include your fine-motor abilities, vision, and ability to clean and maintain the hearing aids.
  4. Verification: The art and science of hearing aid dispensing includes programming the hearing aids so that they are tailored specifically to your hearing loss and your needs. Testing, with the hearing aids in your ears, is then done to verify and confirm that these goals are met. Hearing aids should be comfortable and fit well.
  5. Follow up and sound quality: Follow-up is important during the initial trial while your brain is being retrained to make good use of the improved sound. Routine monitoring is recommended to make sure the hearing aids are functioning well and to monitor your hearing loss for any changes. Hearing aids can often be reprogrammed to accommodate for changes in hearing.

Remember that hearing loss treatment is available and there are many options to meet your personal needs. Start with an evaluation today!

Julie Stefanski, Au.D., F-AAA, is an audiologist at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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