There are many steps that are part of a hearing evaluation. If you suspect that you might need a hearing aid, you will first need to have a hearing evaluation. At the time of the hearing evaluation, a case history will be taken to determine how much your hearing problem impacts your day-to-day life as well as the lives of your family. A complete history will be taken, and questions will be asked about when and how the hearing loss started, if there is ringing in your ears (tinnitus) and if you experience dizziness. You may also have to provide some basic questions about your general health history.
The results from your hearing test will provide the hearing care professional an outline of what sounds you may be missing or hearing, but the personal answers about your daily life and perception about your hearing provide the basis for a more comprehensive hearing evaluation. You may be referred to a medical doctor specializing in disorders of the ear if you are a candidate for hearing aids or if there are other medical conditions your hearing professional thinks should be addressed before hearing aids are recommended. This referral can often be the first step in the hearing aid examination.
If your hearing test reveals a permanent hearing loss, a hearing aid may be recommended for one or both ears. Your hearing professional may explain what sounds you are not hearing and what a hearing aid(s) can do to help. It is usually at this appointment that you will get to see and touch different styles of hearing aids. In some cases, you may even be able to listen to a hearing aid. Your hearing professional will help you choose the best hearing aid(s) style, features and level of sophistication based on your degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and financial circumstances. The final decision on which hearing aid(s) is purchased is your choice.
Once you make a decision, the hearing professional may take impressions of your ears if you selected custom hearing aids or behind-the-ear hearing aids that require earmolds. Hearing aids must usually be ordered from a manufacturer and then programmed by your hearing professional to meet your specific hearing needs. The currently popular, Receiver in Canal hearing aids, can be fit at your evaluation appointment or within a few days. With some patients a trial fitting is appropriate and could happen that same day. Your hearing professional will help you decide the most appropriate action for you. The process can take a few day to a couple of weeks, so do not be disappointed when you do not receive your hearing aids the same day as your evaluation.