Access to high-quality, affordable hearing care is an urgent public health issue in the United States, especially for the 37.5 million people already affected by some degree of hearing loss, according to the National Institute of Deafness. and Other Communication Disorders.
Severe hearing loss in particular is a life-changing disability, and getting the best care can be a challenge, says Chad Ruffin, health advisory board member for Forbes, MD, otolaryngologist, ENT surgeon (ENT ) certified. hearing loss and cochlear implants. When looking for an audiologist to help treat hearing loss, Dr. Ruffin suggests keeping the following details in mind.
“It’s critical that hearing aids are fitted using ‘real ear measurements’ (REM),” he says. “This fitting technique places a microphone between the eardrum and the hearing aid to verify that the hearing aid fits the patient’s hearing prescription.” Audiologists adhering to best practice in the field use REM when fitting their patients to hearing aids.
Second, people with severe hearing loss can benefit from purchasing hearing aids with advanced noise filtration found in “high-end” hearing aids, according to Dr. Ruffin. You can also benefit from hearing aids that can work with wireless microphones and other hearing aid technologies. Your audiologist should offer you such options after your assessment and diagnosis of severe hearing loss.
Finally, many patients with severe hearing loss may actually benefit more from a cochlear implant than from a hearing aid, Dr. Ruffin says. These devices convert sound into electricity and directly stimulate the auditory nerves. They are implanted under the skin in a short outpatient procedure. The external processor looks like a big hearing aid.
“When cochlear implants were first introduced 40 years ago, they were reserved for ‘stone deaf’ patients with no residual hearing,” says Dr Ruffin. “Advances in technology are now helping those who can hear in a quiet room, but have great difficulty when background noise is added.”
Some hearing professionals may not realize that a person can talk on the phone and still be a candidate for a cochlear implant, which is important because cochlear implants work best when patients receive them before hearing loss sets in. progresses towards the “deafness” range, says Dr. Ruffin. . One way to ensure you receive the best care is to find a hearing healthcare professional who works in a program that also accommodates cochlear implants. These programs are better equipped to determine when a cochlear implant will provide more benefit than a hearing aid. Patients in these programs are more likely to receive care from professionals who provide the full spectrum of care.