Lifestyle/Art Hearing

Published on September 2nd, 2023 | by Dr. Jerry Doby


Best Steps to Follow to Improve Your Hearing

For most people, hearing loss sets in subtly as they age. They may suddenly find it difficult to follow conversations that take place in noisy environments, have trouble understanding dialogue on the TV, or may realize they are struggling to hear certain sounds, like children speaking or birds singing. Sometimes, they can hear sounds, but they can’t pinpoint where they are coming from.

For those who experience these symptoms and others that are common to hearing loss, the good news is that relief is readily available.

“More people today are partnering with hearing healthcare professionals to effectively treat hearing loss than ever before in history,” says Dr. Clifford Olson, Audiologist and Founder of Arizona-based Applied Hearing Solutions. “Hearing aids have gotten substantially better in recent years in both the way they can be programmed and the way they perform, meaning more and more people are happy and satisfied with their hearing treatment.”

Dr. Olson hosts the popular “Doctor Cliff, AuD” YouTube channel, through which he has helped millions of viewers understand their hearing health and the steps they can take to improve it. He founded Applied Hearing Solutions to help patients connect with committed audiologists who could help them hear their absolute best. He is also a member of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology and a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology.

According to Dr. Olson, you can take control of your hearing and achieve positive results by following three simple steps.

Step 1: Get a hearing evaluation from a licensed audiologist

The first step to improving your hearing is seeking an evaluation from the proper hearing care professional. Most patients will begin by visiting their primary care physician, who will typically refer them to one of three specialists who treat hearing loss: audiologists, otolaryngologists (often called ENTs), and hearing instrument specialists.

While all of these specialists play a role in treating hearing loss, an audiologist is the best qualified for evaluating and treating the most common hearing loss disorders.

“An audiologist is a professional who specializes in the identification and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders,” Dr. Olson explains. “ENTs are medical doctors that focus on correcting ear problems by prescribing medications and doing surgery. That is different from audiologists, who focus on hearing itself.”

Hearing instrument specialists are trained to evaluate hearing loss and dispense hearing aids. Unlike audiologists, they do not have the training necessary to identify, diagnose, or treat the wide range of other ear-related issues including tinnitus and balance disorders.

Step 2: Acquire the proper treatment

Once the cause of hearing loss is properly diagnosed, audiologists can recommend the proper treatment.

“In most cases – I’d say more than 90 percent of the time — the proper treatment is hearing aids,” Dr. Olson says. “Today’s technology, when combined with best practices, allows for hearing aids to be customized to fit the unique needs of each patient.”

To optimize the impact of their hearing aids and maximize the return on their investment, patients must make sure they receive high-quality care. Hearing aids must be properly fit and programmed to the patient’s unique needs.

“Proper treatment is person-centered,” Dr. Olson explains. “It takes into account the patient’s needs, wants, and values.”

According to Dr. Olson, Real Ear Measurement (REM) is the industry gold standard for hearing aid fittings and something that patients should demand. Factory settings on hearing aids — which are known as “first-fit” settings — provide a standard level of amplification. REM allows an audiologist to customize this initial “first fit” programming to match the patient’s exact prescription.

“REM is used to verify that the hearing aid user is getting the correct amount of amplification needed at each frequency,” he says. “It is a process that the best audiologists will use to provide their patients with the best hearing aid treatment outcome  possible.”

Step 3: Make sure that your audiologist follows best practices

“When it comes to optimizing your performance with hearing aids, finding a hearing care professional who follows audiologic best practices is the absolute best way to do it,” Dr. Olson says. “Working with an audiologist who follows best practices is the key to a life-transforming hearing care experience.”

Audiologic best practices are a set of practice guidelines proven by research to ensure hearing loss is treated properly. They include steps that address hearing aid technology selection, assessment, and goal setting; the technical aspects of treatment; orientation, counseling, and follow-up; and assessing outcomes.

Essentially, audiology best practices keep the focus on understanding the patient’s unique needs and developing a personalized treatment plan. They start with developing a comprehensive case history and needs assessment.

“When hearing healthcare professionals take the time to obtain a complete understanding of your hearing loss, they make it possible to identify and facilitate the right hearing treatment,” says Dr. Olson. “Treating hearing loss properly is complex. To make sure you get the best possible treatment, work with a professional who is willing to invest the time and resources needed to achieve optimal results.”

Audiologic best practices ensure that the patient receives the best hearing aids as well as a detailed orientation to those hearing aids. In the months that follow, counseling and follow-up care are provided to ensure that the hearing aids are effective for years to come.

Better hearing is possible

The most important step anyone can take toward improving their hearing is becoming educated on hearing loss treatment.

“The biggest problem I noticed as I sought to help people struggling with hearing loss was the lack of accessible and reliable information,” Dr. Olson says. “I started my YouTube channel to provide people with the insider information that would make them a better consumer.”

Those who understand where to turn for help with hearing loss and the practices that should be followed by hearing care professionals will be better equipped to receive proper care. As a result, they can quickly get the treatment they need to experience better hearing and a more satisfying lifestyle.

About the Author

Journalist, Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and Media Consultant. Ph.D. and retired military. Member of ForbesBLK, the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture, and the United States Press Agency. Partner at THM Media Group. Connect with Jerry across social media @jerrydoby_

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