For many, visiting a hearing care professional for the first time is a stressful or anxiety-filled experience. Patients may not know what to expect at their first appointment. They are still coming to terms with a potential hearing loss diagnosis. How can patients be advised to make the most of their appointment with a hearing care practitioner?
The following are a list of tasks patients can perform in advance of their appointment, so that they are well-equipped with both knowledge and informed questions for their hearing care practitioner.
Understand Insurance Coverage
Coverage of hearing aids, assistive devices, or any hearing care services can vary widely depending on your insurance plan. The first step would be to read your policy carefully and/or follow-up with your insurance provider to ask more specific questions. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends checking with your insurance company to see if a physician referral is required in order to see an audiologist or other hearing care professional. If your insurance does not provide coverage, the ASHA website has detailed information on various funding options here and the National Center for Hearing Assessment and Management (NCHAM) has a list of hearing aid loaner bank programs for children here.
Come Up With a List of Questions
It helps to come prepared with answers to the questions your hearing care professional is sure to ask as well as a list of your own questions. The Mayo Clinic has provided lists for both the former and the latter, which have been excerpted here from their website:
Questions your Hearing Care Professional May Ask
- Do you have a history of ear infections, ear trauma, or ear surgery?
- Did your symptoms come on suddenly or more gradually?
- Have you experienced dizziness or problems with balance?
- Do you have trouble understanding people who talk in a low voice?
- Do you ask people to repeat themselves during a conversation? If so, does this happen more often in a crowded restaurant or bar?
- Can you hear someone coming up behind you?
- Can you describe your symptoms? Do you have pain, ringing, hissing, or buzzing in your ears?
- Were you ever exposed to loud noise in a job or in the military?
Suggested Questions for your Hearing Care Professional
- What tests do you recommend?
- Are there any interactions with medications I’m currently taking?
- What might be causing my symptoms?
- Do you recommend seeing a specialist?
Preliminary Research on Hearing Aids/Treatment Plans
Though you won’t know what treatment plans your practitioner recommends until your hearing loss has been assessed, it can’t hurt to research the possibilities in advance of your appointment. Notable hearing-related organizations like the Better Hearing Institute (BHI) offer information on different hearing devices, their recommended uses, and what you can expect in terms of benefit. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) as well as the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) have detailed websites explaining the different types of hearing loss, behind-the-ear (BTE) versus in-the-ear (ITE) hearing devices, common hearing device features, as well as the benefits and limitations of hearing aids. The FDA also offers information on a variety of devices to improve hearing that include assistive listening devices, cochlear implants, and Personal Sound Amplifier Products (PSAP), among others.
Though this is by no means an exhaustive list, it can provide a good launching point for your hearing care journey. And for those who are wondering how to finance the cost of treatment, it makes sense to ask your hearing care provider if they use CareCredit. With CareCredit, patients are given the option of spreading out their payments into easy monthly installments.
This content is provided to the 4MyHearingBiz community courtesy of CareCredit, ASHA, NCHAM, the Mayo Clinic, FDA, NIDCD, and the BHI.