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 13153 N. Dale Mabry Hwy, Suite 105, Tampa, Florida 33618, phone: 1-800-460-7EAA (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 that 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. One of my favorites is: bhNews. To subscribe, send a blank email to mailto:bhNEWS-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Consider subscribing to it 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 has three children. She, her husband and daughter are all hearing impaired. Her sons have normal hearing. A law school graduate, Paula is the publisher of <http://www.HearingExchange.com>, an online community for people with hearing loss, families of deaf and hard of hearing children and professionals. She is also a writer and public speaker on hearing loss and related issues. To contact her, send an email to
info@hearingexchange.com <mailto:info@hearingexchange.com>.

© 2002-2006 Paula Rosenthal and Taylor Rose, Inc. All rights reserved. For reprint information, please email <mailto:info@hearingexchange.com>.

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