OTC hearing aid sales have reached an all-time high in relationship to an increase in the number of American adults suffering from hearing loss. The National Institute of Health (NIS) reports that 37.5 million adults or approximately 15% of the U.S. population have hearing problems and that about 28.8 million of them can benefit from hearing aids.
Although some Maryland residents are getting some help from OTC hearing aids, I question whether they are receiving the right treatment or quality of care necessary to make a real difference to their hearing health. To improve the awareness of our community concerning the quality of care provided by an audiologist, I have made a list of four ways an audiologist can help you.
What Is an Audiologist?
An audiologist specializes in diagnosing all types of health issues related to hearing and the ears. Audiologists prescribe treatment plans, therapies, follow-up care, and preventative care. Hearing aids are only one aspect of the broad range of hearing health issues we deal with. Conditions Jacobs Audiology helps our patients manage include:
- Hearing loss
- Dizziness and Balance
- Hearing Screening and Testing
- Hearing Loss Prevention
- Hearing Aids and Other Assistive Technology
My concern for your hearing relates to your overall healthcare and not just fitting you for a hearing aid. With that bit of clarification, let’s look at those four ways an audiologist can help you.
Screening for Hearing Loss
A hearing examination by an audiologist includes a complete examination of all of the various aspects related to your specific case. My hearing exam includes identifying structural issues, obstructions, inflammation, or foreign objects in the ear canal, along with assessing your sound and voice recognition thresholds. Jacobs Audiology conducts screenings to establish a baseline against which we can measure a future decline in your hearing so that we can act early, including school screenings and public health events.
Prescribing Appropriate Treatments
Although hearing aids are a treatment option, they are not the only option. In some cases, inflammation from an infection is causing hearing loss, which an audiologist treats with medication. In other cases, removing earwax, a small growth, or a foreign object from your ear canal is the best treatment. Treatments for tinnitus, which use masking and other specialized techniques and equipment, bring the needed relief. More severe cases of hearing loss might call for more advanced options like cochlear implants. In short, audiologists have an extensive toolkit for treating your specific hearing condition.
Your Hearing Health Advocate
Fitting you with a hearing aid, if that is the right treatment, is not the end of my job as your hearing health advocate. You will need support and encouragement as you adapt to your new hearing aids as well as technical support and adjustments to get the most clarity and best performance from the device. As you age, your environment and needs also change, bringing new hearing health challenges along with them. An OTC hearing aid cannot meet these new challenges, which require the personal attention of a hearing healthcare professional and the full range of treatment options at my disposal.
Hearing Technology Adjustment
The main difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser revolves around where I place my focus. Because your hearing, rather than the device, is my priority, I work to fit the technology to meet your specific needs. My attention after providing you with the right hearing technology is to ensure that you get the most benefit from the instrument by making adjustments, assisting with cleaning and maintenance, and supporting, encouraging, and counseling you through the adjustment period.
Jacobs Audiology Wants to Help
Hearing aids offer a life-changing experience to those who need them, offering wearers greater independence and a higher quality lifestyle. However, for my team at Jacobs Audiology, our greatest desire is to enhance your lifestyle using all of the resources we have available to provide you with the best possible hearing healthcare accessible. Contact us for more information on how we can help you.