New Zealand Association of Independent Audiologists
Frequently Asked Questions.
What is an audiologist? An audiologist is a professional who has received special training in the diagnostic evaluation of the hearing system, on the effects of hearing on communication, and in the rehabilitation of hearing loss, typically through amplification with hearing aids.
What training is required to be an audiologist? Audiologists undertake at least 5 years of university study and have a postgraduate qualification, usually a Diploma or Master's Degree in Audiology. They have an additional year of supervised practice in order to receive a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC) from the New Zealand Audiological Society. In addition New Zealand Audiologists have to undertake continual education to maintain their Practicing Certificates. This is a requirement in order to remain a member of the New Zealand Audiological Society.
Is there any funding available to help people get a hearing aid? For those that qualify, there are various avenues to obtain funding. However only an audiologist who is a full member of the New Zealand Audiological Society can obtain hearing aid funding through ACC, War Pensions or the Health Funding Authority on behalf of their patients
Is an audiometrist the same as an audiologist? No, an audiometrist usually has no formal university training. They have historically been trained on the job and carry out basic hearing tests and sometimes hearing aid fitting. Although, legally audiometrists can sell hearing aids, they are not audiologists and are unable to claim hearing aid funding from ACC, War Pensions and the Health Funding Authority.
Who can be tested? People of any age can have their hearing evaluated. You are never too old or too young to be tested. Infants as young as a few hours old can be evaluated using special tests and equipment.
How will the audiologist test my hearing? You will be seated in a room that is specially treated to reduce outside noises. You will be asked to listen to a series of tones through the earphones and respond by raising your hand every time you hear a sound, no matter how soft. You may also be asked to repeat words to test your understanding. You may also hear single syllable words at a very loud level. The audiologist will also ask you to listen for more tones presented through a headset placed on the bone behind your ear.
What other tests are used? A tympanogram may be used to test the mobility of your eardrum and middle ear bones. You may hear some loud sounds that will test your auditory reflex. Other special tests may be required to further determine the cause of your hearing loss or other ear related symptoms.
So, I had a hearing test. Now what? The audiologist will discuss the results of the evaluation with you. There are three primary types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural (damage to the sensory cells or auditory nerve) or mixed (both conductive and sensorineural). Conductive hearing loss usually occurs from a blockage of sound in the outer or middle ear and is often medically treatable. If you have a conductive hearing loss, the audiologist will refer you to an otologist for evaluation and treatment.
Can medicine also help a nerve loss? Sensorineural or "nerve" hearing loss is usually not medically treatable and can be caused by aging, exposure to noise, or diseases of the ear. Hearing instruments are especially designed to help this type of hearing loss.
How do I know if I need hearing aids? Two factors are necessary to make you a candidate for the use of hearing aids: You must have a hearing loss and you must be experiencing difficulty in your everyday life because of your hearing. We can inform you about any hearing loss. But, you must tell us about the degree of difficulty you are having.
How will I know if a hearing aid will help me? The audiologist will discuss options for size of the instrument (behind-the-ear, in-the-ear, or completely in the canal) and type of instrument (standard or programmable) that is best suited for your needs and your hearing loss. You will also be informed as to costs of the various devices. After this you will be given the option of a no obligation hearing aid trial. After the hearing aids have been trialed for 30 days or more you may return them for a refund if you feel they are not beneficial.
How well do hearing aids work? Hearing aids are designed to make sounds louder and therefore easier to hear. Most hearing aids today also include circuitry to keep sounds from becoming too loud and to help reduce the effects of background noise. No hearing aid can eliminate background noise or make every sound perfectly audible. In most cases the benefits of hearing aids far outweigh any of the problems associated with their use or with continuing to miss conversation.
Is there new technology I should consider? Technology involved in hearing instruments, like in all medical fields, is continually improving. Hearing instruments come in a variety of sizes. New digital and computer programmable technology allows for a more precise fit of your particular hearing loss, with a clearer, more natural sound. Hearing aids with directional microphones provide improved perception of speech in a background of noise.
What is involved in getting a hearing instrument? Any hearing aid will require an impression (mould) of your ear to insure a good fit. The audiologist will examine your ear and place a small, foam block in your ear canal. The canal will then be filled with a silicone material. After about 5 minutes, the material is removed and the canal re-examined. The impression is then sent to the earmould lab or hearing aid manufacturer.
How long before I am fitted? Most devices are back in the clinic in about two weeks. You will make an appointment for a hearing aid fitting and will be taught how to care for the hearing aid.
Are there follow up visits? Your fitting appointment will take about one hour. You will also need a follow up check in 2-3 weeks and possibly another in 3-4 weeks. If you are doing well, you will not need another check for 6-12 months. Of course, you may call for a check at any time should you have problems with the device or with your hearing. Most clinics do not charge for follow-up appointments within a set period (usually at least 6 months) of the initial fitting.
Am I stuck with the hearing aid if I don't like it? You will be given at least a 30 day trial for your hearing instrument. If you decide to return it, your money will be refunded, less any fitting fees that may be applicable at the particular clinic. If you decide to try a different make or model, all money paid toward the first instrument will be credited toward the second and you will have a fresh 30 days to decide if the new instrument is appropriate.
What is the warranty period? Most hearing aids come with a 1-2 year manufacturer's warranty against defects in manufacture and workmanship. General repairs during this time are no charge.