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5 Tips for Assessing the Need for New Hearing Aids

by Paula Rosenthal, J.D.



As a hearing aid user for 32 years and also a parent of a child who has worn aids for 4 years, determining whether new hearing aids are necessary has not always been clear cut. As with most aspects of managing hearing loss, it is up to you to be proactive in determining if new hearing aids and assistive listening devices (ALDs) are appropriate. Don't wait for your hearing healthcare professionals (doctors, audiologists, etc.) to keep you up-to-date on the latest products available. Follow these tips below to help assess the need for new hearing aids for yourself or your child.

1. The Audiologist

Be sure to find a reputable audiologist whose opinion you trust. A good audiologist will have information on and distribute many brands of hearing aids and assistive devices. For children, educational audiologists are preferable as they are more apt to understand the specific needs children have for hearing and acoustics in classrooms. To find out if there is an educational audiologist in your area, contact the Educational Audiology Association, 4319 Ehrlich Road, Tampa, Florida 33624, phone: 800.460.7322, Email: mailto:EAA@L-TGRAYE.COM. Another source for a children's audiologist is to contact a local school for deaf and/or hearing impaired children and ask if they have an audiology department or an audiologist on staff. Let your audiologist know that you are interested in learning about new technology and advancements.

2. Changes in Hearing

If your or your child's hearing changes and is determined to be a permanent, sensorineural loss (not conductive), ask the audiologist if a stronger pair of hearing aids are necessary. Some hearing aids offer considerable gain and may only need an adjustment to be tuned to the new level of hearing loss. If they don't offer more gain, or they are already using most of the amplification available, it may be time to consider a more powerful hearing aid.

3. Changes in Speech

If you notice that your or your child's speech sounds sloppy or begins to regress, request a new hearing and speech evaluation. Changes in speech may be indicative of a change in hearing and may warrant an adjustment on the current aids or a new pair of hearing aids.

4. Testing New Hearing Aids

At least once or twice a year, ask the audiologist if there are any new hearing aids available or coming onto the market that may be suitable for you or your child. If there is, set up a trial period. Have the audiologist conduct an aided hearing evaluation after the new hearing aids have been worn for at least a week or more. New hearing aids can take several days to get used to. Compare the aided results to recent tests with the original pair of aids. This will help assess whether the new pair of aids offers enough benefit to consider purchasing them.

5. Stay Informed

Make it a habit to periodically check the hearing aid manufacturers' web sites for information on new products. The Resource Directory at HearingExchange offers links to several top hearing aid manufacturers' sites here: http://www.hearingexchange.com/resources/Hearing_Aid_Manufacturers/. Another way to stay informed of new products is to visit the News section of HearingExchange which is located on the main page at http://www.HearingExchange.com. News articles are updated regularly.

There are also some daily listserves that can keep you abreast of hearing aid and assistive technology news. My favorites are: bhNews and USA-L News. To subscribe, send a blank email to mailto:bhNEWS-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and/or a blank email to mailto:USA-L_News-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Consider receiving these in digest format as they send out many articles each day.

Accurately fitted hearing aids are important for listening, comprehension and speaking. It also plays a significant part in the emotional well-being of hearing impaired adults and children. By keeping these tips in mind, you will have a better idea of when new hearing aids may be necessary.

Paula Rosenthal, J.D. is married and a mother of two young children. She, her husband and daughter are all hearing impaired. Her son has normal hearing. Paula is the founder and publisher of http://www.HearingExchange.com, an online community of resources and support for people with hearing loss, parents of deaf and hard of hearing children and professionals who work with them. Subscribe to HearingExchange News and any of the other free newsletters and chat reminders available at http://lb.bcentral.com/ex/manage/subscriberprefs?customerid=6181

Copyright Paula Rosenthal, 2002. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this article requires express, written permission of the author. Send an email to mailto:reprints@hearingexchange.com with your request.



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