New legislation by the FDA allows for hearing aids to be available over-the-counter in the near future, but is that the best option for you? For those who may be considering purchasing over-the-counter hearing aids, Heather M. Lamberth, Aud, FAAA, CCC-A, Audiologist at ARC Far West Medical Tower in Austin, advises that seeing an audiologist is still the first step in the process, as there is no way to know whether or not over-the-counter hearing aids would be the right treatment for your hearing loss.
In this recent article in Community Impact, Dr. Lamberth gives a detailed analysis of the types of hearing loss, the optimal solutions for the different types of hearing loss, and why you are best served in seeking the analysis and diagnosis of an audiologist first.
Signs of hearing loss
Dr. Lamberth says some of the most common signs of hearing loss are:
- patients reporting that people speaking to them are mumbling
- family members complaining that they cannot hear them
- asking for repetition more frequently
- having to turn up the volume on the television or the telephone
“The statistics out there are actually that people experience seven years of some trouble before moving forward with getting an evaluation,” Dr. Lamberth said. “So oftentimes, by the time we see individuals, they’ve been dealing with these difficulties for years and just reach a kind of threshold where they recognize that it’s time to find out what’s going on.”
Contributors to hearing loss include:
- genetic predisposition
- genetic disorders
- birth defects
- excessive noise exposure
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- nicotine use
Types of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural hearing loss -- the issue resides in the inner ear, or the cochlea, and behind the cochlea. It is most often associated with general age-related change but is also seen in some children who have congenital hearing loss, which is hearing loss present at birth.
- Conductive hearing loss, which means the problem resides in the middle ear space: the tympanic membrane, eardrum and three bones behind the eardrum. Patients with conductive hearing loss often require an Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) physician after being diagnosed by an audiologist.
How your audiologist can help you with hearing aids?
Once hearing loss is diagnosed, audiologists sit down with individuals to discuss all aspects of hearing aids:
- style, size, and design
- distinctions in technology
- the patient’s day-to-day routine
- individual sets of listening demands that a person may have
- testing to confirm the programming
“The recommendation for trying to preserve your hearing or keep hearing as optimal as possible is to stay healthy,” Dr. Lamberth said. “The ears are a larger part of the system. So making sure that you maintain a healthy lifestyle, good diet, staying hydrated, minimizing noise exposure or using hearing protection anytime that you’re around noise, those things all promote healthy hearing.”
Make an appointment today
From Round Rock to Kyle, Austin Regional Clinic has five locations with audiology departments across the Austin metro. Make an audiology appointment online or visit the website at www.austinregionalclinic.com to learn more.