I would argue that it is not possible to recommend the right hearing aid based on the audiogram alone.
When I recommend a hearing aid, I take into account not only the results of the hearing evaluation, but also the patient's dexterity, ear size and shape, cognitive state, vanity, and lifestyle (just to name a few!). I would not have any of that information if I had only seen an audiogram.
Simply looking at an audiogram does not provide enough information to select a hearing aid. Many patient-related factors must be considered. For example, the shape or texture of a person's ear(s) may dictate best style, as may the rate and degree of earwax production in the ear canals. Poor vision and/or dexterity will also limit choices/steer selection - for example, a rechargeable hearing aid may be best for someone who has a very difficult time changing hearing aid batteries. Lifestyle factors will also influence choice - if the person is often outside, frequently uses mobile phones, watches a lot of television, is a musician or listens to a lot of music, or works in a noisy environment, all may require different hearing aid features.
At fitting, real ear measures should be performed to determine if the aids can provide appropriate, rehabilitative gain for the person being fit. Despite what the selection software may present, ear canal size, shape and resonances will affect the frequency response of the aids. This further confirmation, provided only at an in-person fitting with a practitioner who utilizes real ear measures in fittings, is the only way to ensure that the aid is fit properly. If the appropriate gain cannot be achieved, it is possible that a different aid be chosen.
Quite simply no.
Quite often in forums an audiogram will be posted & the question will come up "What would you fit for this loss"?
It is simply a starting point.
ie What us the person's view about cosmetics?
What is their budget?
Have they worn hearing aids before?
Can their ear accommodate all types of aid? For example is their canal very narrow is their any kind of deformity to their ear? Do they have any kind of sensitivity to any materials?
Are they a current analogue aid user?
If they are a digital aid user what brand?
What support systems do the person with the loss have in place?
Would speech testing indicate assistive devices where required?
There are more questions/tests validations/verification but you get the point!
Absolutely not. This is akin to saying "I have a driver's license, so all cars are alike and I'll be just as happy with one as another."
Hearing aids vary significant in styles, features, and performance. The greatest variance which has a direct impact on the price is the level of technology the hearing aid has, but whether someone benefits from that technology cannot be determined by the audiogram alone. Certain features will be irrelevant to some users and crucial to others.
The best determining factor for what the "right" hearing aid is for each individual is their lifestyle and communication demands. For someone with a quiet, socially sedentary lifestyle, and entry-level product is not only adequate, but probably more appropriate since they won't be spending money of features they will likely never use. At the other end of the spectrum, however, is someone with a very active, dynamic lifestyle--someone in meetings a lot, background noise, on their cell phone, etc. They will benefit from the additional features to help their hearing keep up with the demands of that lifestyle. Two patients with similar audiograms but very different lifestyles will each have a different "right" hearing aid to best suit their needs.
The primary impact the audiogram has on what is the "right" hearing aid is simply how much amplification--in decibels--are needed to meet the user's hearing loss. But the choosing the "right" hearing aid depends on a lot of other criteria besides just the audiogram, which is why purchasing a hearing aid without the benefit of a licensed hearing professional to assist your needs would be tantamount to picking a car based solely on its color.
I completely agree with the points stated by Dr. Tomko above. You must consider the patient as an individual person. The way we perceive sound, the sound environments we are in, our listening needs, cognitive ability, sight, dexterity, cosmetics and budget should all be taken into account.
Yes it is possible to choose a hearing aid based on a hearing test. Fitting hearing aids on the basis of a hearing test alone is done routinely on mission trips when we see hundreds of people in need of help each day. I assume in writing this that your ears were examined and found to be free of wax and that the hearing test was not self administered. That being said, in my practice, using a hearing test alone would not be a recommendation for most of the patients that walk through our door. Doing it right the first time saves both time and money and makes for happier patients. Anatomical structure, dexterity, or how much time an individual spends in noise and hears in noise are only a few examples of what is taken into consideration in making a decision. The way we purchase products is rapidly changing. To assure your success with the product that you choose, make sure that real ear measurements or speech mapping is used in the fitting process.
No, I need to know more about the person. People don't go see the eye doctor and have them select their frames. The patient needs to know what all of their choices are and what are the differences from one brand to another.
Other considerations are dexterity, cosmetics, and whether or not they are frequently in noisy places.
Audiologists look at the whole person.
We use several test when making recommendations but it could be done as long as you have air and bone. It would how ever be nice to have speech discrimination and a few other helpful results. Most patients would be fit with binaural hearing instruments unless there is no hearing loss in the other ear. In which case a unilateral hearing loss would demand more than an audiogram to determine recommendation. We want as much information and case history as we can get when making hearing instrument recommendations.
This is a difficult question. On the whole, hearing aids are all pretty good, and they all provide relatively the same function-they process sound to make soft things loud enough to hear without making loud things uncomfortably loud and without causing "too much" spectral distortion. Basically, the hearing aids are usually trying to take the place of the cochlea which isn't functioning the way it ought to.
So inasmuch as the basics are there, you can choose a hearing aid that will provide the appropriate gain or amount of loudness for a given hearing loss based on just the audiogram...just like you could choose an appropriate car for someone just on the basis of knowing they want to drive and they want to use gasoline over diesel or electric. Anything chosen would be at least right enough to provide the service needed.
However, the devil is in the details, and without knowing all the features and details a person wants and needs, you are very unlikely to pick the most right hearing aid for a person.
I will make the assumption you are referring to the standard hearing screening results ... a graph showing the levels of how each ear responds to various sound intensities. The answer is both yes and no! Yes, there is information sufficient to set hearing aids to proper levels to amplify sound. However, this is a blatantly incorrect way to fit hearing aids. There is so much more that has to be considered. First and most important is the cause of the hearing loss. There are medically treatable issues that can restore hearing without hearing aids. There are also medical issues causing hearing loss that can lead to permanent loss or even death if not discovered and treated properly. Any reputable provider will not fit hearing aids without proper and THOROUGH testing. To do otherwise is simply malpractice.
There are several types of hearing loss and each must be treated correctly. Hearing aids are not always the answer. This can only be known by complete testing, not simply tones played in the ear. As an example, if a fitting increases sound but the loss is resultant of a tumor on the auditory nerve ... there is almost certain longer term and very serious issues in store for that patient. Practitioners that are licensed to provide hearing healthcare services have extensive training to find the many maladies that can lead to hearing loss. The majority of online sellers (some even offering online hearing screening) are just that, online sellers only interested in selling hearing aids. Don't fall for that! Your health is far too important. Find a professional you trust that has impeccable references. So no, if done correctly and safely, there is not enough information to recommend the right hearing aids!
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