Many people report that their GP has told them that their hearing is ‘fine’ and they don’t need to get hearing aids. They may even be told that hearing aids don’t work and are a waste of money. Why does this happen and who should you believe? The GP or the Audiologist? Let’s take a closer look.
HOW MUCH DO GPS LEARN ABOUT HEARING AND HEARING AIDS?
GPs are obviously well trained, highly respected and the go-to person for all your general health concerns. However, during their training, there are many topics to cover. As a result, a non-life threatening condition such as hearing loss takes up very little of their precious training time. Anecdotal evidence suggests this may be as little as 2 hours over the 4 years. For any medical condition such as a middle ear infection, the GP is highly knowledgeable BUT when it comes to diagnosing and treating hearing loss, I’m sure they would agree, this is not their area of expertise. In contrast, an Audiologist will complete a 2 year course involving a diploma and a Masters degree solely focused on the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and associated pathologies of the ear system. Without a doubt, Audiologists are the experts on diagnosing hearing loss and recommending and fitting hearing aids. They are experienced in determining whether or not you might benefit from hearing rehabilitation based on both their education and their experience with other patients.
HOW DOES THE GP DETERMINE THAT YOUR HEARING IS ‘FINE’?
I haven’t been in the room with the GP to know this information. However, from what our patients tell us, this advice can be based on basic observation, ‘We are talking right now and you can hear me, you’re fine!’ or more advanced data such as the GP’s interpretation of an Audiogram (hearing test result). To this point I would advise you to look to yourself! Do you in yourself feel your hearing is fine? Can you hear conversation in cafes and restaurants with no effort? Do you have to ask people to repeat themselves? Are you turning up the TV? Do you feel as though people mumble? You are the only person who knows how you experience sound and whether your hearing loss is impacting on your daily communication. Seek advice from both the GP and the Audiologist, but you will need to also look to your own experiences and your family/friends to determine whether your hearing is ‘fine’. We don’t want ‘fine’ we aim to give you better hearing than that!
WHY DO GPS BELIEVE THAT HEARING AIDS ‘DON’T WORK’?
There are some people who do not wear their hearing aids. They struggle to get used to them, feel overwhelmed by background noise and can’t manage them. It is important to note, that this does not mean hearing aids don’t work. It just means that for that individual, the hearing aids were not right. Cancer is often treated with chemotherapy, some patients do not respond to treatment. However, this does not mean that chemotherapy doesn’t work for anyone with cancer. So, remember to choose your hearing aid style and technology wisely. Make sure you get a trial period. Have patience and persevere, it can take anywhere from a month to a year to get used to hearing aids. Communicate with the audiologist and ensure the hearing aids are adjusted to your listening needs. We have hundreds of success stories every year, you can be one of them.
The final verdict is- it is useful to get advice from both your GP and your Audiologist. However, you need to also talk to the experts in your hearing-your family and friends who communicate with you every day. Hearing aids are fitted to address hearing loss. However, what they really do is improve communication. Take on board all advice. Remember, you have nothing to lose by trying something new, you can then make an informed decision.