Having discussed in previous blogs everything about a hearing test, we now reach the final stage where your results are explained, and the clinician gives you their recommendations.
A hearing assessment is an opportunity for you to gather information about your hearing health. This allows you to make an educated decision about the options available. Hearing aids can be costly, so your results and any recommendations which stems from them, should be explained.
In this article I’ll summarise what the final part of your hearing test should be like and explain why it’s important that results are explained, and recommendations are unbiased. I’ll also give you tips for a better conversation with your clinician. Let’s get started.
At a Glance
- Good clinicians put your tests results into a context you can understand.
- Make sure your results are explained using examples from your daily life.
- If you understand your test results, you’ll be better able to weigh your options.
Let’s assume that you have had a consultation and hearing test (let’s also assume that they were according to the steps outlined in previous articles). Having examined and tested your entire hearing system and taken the time to understand your experiences and clarify your goals, the clinician now has an opportunity to put all the pieces of the puzzle together for you.
The conversation should be simple and practical without excessive technical talk. Expect the clinician to illustrate how their diagnosis links up with your daily experiences; not in broad strokes, but in such a way that shows an understanding and appreciation of your challenges.
When all is said and done, you aren’t looking for a crash course in audiology. You’re looking for a trust-worthy clinician who can advise and support you over time.
Red Flags and Warning Signs
Watch out for clinics who summarise your results too quickly or whose diagnosis is difficult to follow. Your results should be explained logically but simply. You should never feel as if the explanation is being rushed or if your interests are not given due consideration.
Interpreting test results can be complex, but interpretation is necessary for clinicians to determine the best rehabilitation pathway. If you don’t understand your results, or if the clinician doesn’t take the time to explain them in the context of your daily life, you may end up with a recommendation that doesn’t match your needs. Be prepared to ask questions.
Some clinics skip the summary of results altogether and move straight onto “one strong recommendation”! By ‘simplifying’ the consultation more time and effort can be dedicated to the sales pitch. This is not necessarily in your best interests. You deserve to know what your options are, including the pros and cons of each. This will allow you to make an informed choice about which options matches your needs best.
Try to understand why the clinician is recommending a hearing aid. Has the clinician listened carefully to your needs and wants? Are they matching the devices based on your budget and lifestyle? Did you specifically ask for hearing aids that have Bluetooth connectivity, real time translation of 27 different languages, fall detection, heart rate monitoring, and can turn the lights on and off at a simple verbal request (yes, there are hearing aids that can really do all these things)? Or is your main concern cosmetic? Rechargeability? Or simply being able to hear the TV clearly? Remember, a clinician who has your long-term interests at heart, will offer to take you through your results and discuss a range of options that suit you. Depending on your circumstances, these options many not necessarily include buying a hearing aid. They will do this in order to help you better understand your hearing in real life circumstances and as part of their duty of care.
Hearing rehabilitation is not like optometry or even podiatry. You don’t simply put on a hearing aid and everything is immediately better (with apologies to any optoms or podiatrists reading this). Successful hearing rehabilitation takes time and effort on the part of the wearer. It takes time to become used to the way hearing aids sound. This is because the brain hasn’t ‘heard’ many normal sounds for some time. In some cases, it can be a very long time! You’ll probably be more aware of common noises for at least a few days. Your voice, flushing the toilet, walking on gravel and eating chips will all be very different!
The great news is that the brain is incredibly fast at acclimatising to new sounds if you repeatedly expose the brain to those sounds (i.e. you wear the hearing aids from morning to night as intended). In one to two weeks you will be far more accustomed to those sounds than when you first started wearing hearing aids. Many of our patients report that the first couple of days are quite ‘strange’, but within a short while they stop noticing their hearing aids all together.
As you can see it is therefore important that you understand the “what’s” and “why’s” of your hearing results before taking action. Doing so will help you be prepared for the change and will make for happy and successful outcomes.