The costs associated with a hearing aid fitting include not only the device but also the professional skills and knowledge of your audiologist. The value of an audiologist’s intervention lies in the education and training as a professional with a unique skill set to ensure that your device is fit and adjusted to your specific needs through verification and follow-up.
Did you know that to practice audiology in the United States, a license as well as a doctoral degree or master’s degree in audiology is required. Graduate program areas of study include diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders, anatomy and physiology, normal and abnormal communication development, genetics, ethics, physics, pharmacology and more.
As clinical audiologists we have considerable clinical training in normal and abnormal auditory anatomy and physiology thereby allowing me to identify conditions that may require medical treatment. We understand electronics, speech acoustics and how the ear and brain process speech. This background allows us to select features and programming that will maximize your ability to hear speech and other important sounds in a variety of situations. A hearing aid solution that works for one person may not work for another.
Once a hearing aid is prescribed you will have your first fitting at which time verification measures are made to determine that the hearing aids meet a set of standards which includes volume, output, cosmetic appeal, and physical comfort. Using evidence-based practices, real-ear measurements will be obtained using a small microphone placed in the ear with the hearing aid to ensure that appropriate volume is provided for different signals (such as speech). If ear molds or custom hearing aids are ordered, it is necessary to ensure that their characteristics (type of tubing, venting, style and material) are appropriate for the degree of hearing loss and physical characteristics of the ear.
The cost of a hearing aid also includes the professional time for follow-up visits in addition to the initial fitting and orientation appointment. Adapting to amplification will take time, and follow-up appointments to make adjustments to the device may be necessary as your brain becomes accustomed to hearing new sounds. Everyone has unique tolerances to sound and we may need to tailor the response of your device based on your comments over an extended period of time as sounds are reintroduced to your ear.
Finally, it should be recognized that despite wonderful advancements in technology, hearing aids do not restore hearing to normal that is why a comprehensive communications strategy is an essential part of learning to maximize the amplified sound when one has hearing loss.
Obtaining comprehensive hearing care from an audiologist is an investment in your auditory health and results in improved communication, improved speech understanding, and improved quality of life.