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Do You Need to See A Doctor to Get a Hearing Aid?

a hearing specialist is showing her patient a number of different hearing aid styles

Buying a hearing aid seems like it should be similar to getting a new phone or buying a television. But the reality of the process involves more than that. Most people buying glasses visit the opticians before parting with their money because they want professional assistance to make the right choice. The same applies to hearing aids. It helps to have a trusted audiologist by your side, ensuring that you get a product that works. 

See a doctor to get a hearing aid

Most people begin their journey toward getting a hearing aid by seeing their doctor. Perhaps they notice that they're not able to hear as well as they used to, and want advice. 

Their physician will usually do a quick series of tests and then forward them to an audiologist – a specialist doctor with expertise in matters related to the ears. The audiologist will then conduct a more in-depth analysis to determine whether the patient requires hearing aids or not. 

You should note that you do not need to visit a primary care physician or an audiologist to get a hearing aid if you are over 18. Some people order hearing aids over the internet and fit them themselves. However, as mentioned, this can mean you miss out on a quality fitting and wind up with a substandard experience. 

Children under the age of 18 must visit the doctor before they can wear hearing aids. If you have Medicare, your doctor can forward you to an audiologist free of charge. 

Why you need to see a doctor before getting a hearing aid

The Food and Drug Administration says that it is important that you see a doctor before buying hearing aids, no matter what your age, even if it is not mandated by law. The reason for this is simple; you can get a more accurate diagnosis and, therefore, a better hearing aid fitting if you see a professional. 

Calibrating the test

Many online hearing aid fittings offer hearing screens – tests to determine the nature and extent of your hearing loss. Unfortunately, these approaches have a couple of problems. The first is that there is nobody there to ensure the proper calibration of the test. You have to assume that the software works and that you've adjusted your equipment correctly.

Determine the cause of your hearing loss

The second is the fact that these tests don't tell you anything about the cause of your hearing loss. Remember, audiologists aren't solely in the business of selling hearing aids. Their main concern is finding ways to manage your hearing loss as well as possible. And that means that they try to identify the causes of your condition. 

Hearing loss is often the consequence of the aging process, but not always. Often the origins of hearing loss are mundane, easy-to-solve things, such impacted earwax. Other times, the problem has to do with an injury or problems with the ears' blood vessels. If doctors can't determine the origin of the problem, you can't get the best solutions. So, for instance, those with impacted earwax require audiologists to remove it, not hearing aids. Often, once they clear the blockage, normal hearing returns. 

Choosing settings for your device

If it turns out you need a hearing aid, audiologists can help you program the settings – something you might not feel comfortable doing yourself. Some people only require small in-ear hearing aids that provide a modest level of amplification. Others need much larger devices, capable of higher outputs. Behind-the-ear hearing aids, for instance, are best for those with severe hearing loss. 

The settings you choose for your device relate to the results of your hearing test. Audiologists carry out detailed examinations of your ears using special headphones that pipe sounds to your ears at varying frequencies. They then ask you to report which sounds you can hear and when.

If you struggle with some of the frequencies, they will then translate this into the device settings, selecting those that will provide you with optimal amplification. 

Looking after your device

Finally, audiologist doctors can instruct you on how to look after your assistive hearing devices so that you can care for your investment. You'll learn things like how to clean them and change the battery. 

Thus, seeing a doctor is an important part of getting a hearing aid and by far the best approach for securing your long-term ear health. If you'd like to learn more about hearing aids and tests, please call East Bay Audiologists, APC at 925-718-5592.