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Being able to recognize the signs of hearing loss in yourself is difficult, and taking steps to address hearing loss can be even harder. Many people who experience hearing loss will put off getting treatment for 7 to 10 years, partially because of the stigma surrounding hearing loss, but also due to a common confusion about how to create a treatment plan. But with the right steps, getting onto a path towards treatment is less daunting than it seems.

Instead of waiting to get treatment until it can’t be ignored, it’s best to begin addressing your hearing loss as soon as possible– starting out with seeing an audiologist. Once you’ve noticed signs of hearing loss, the first step you need to take is to get an assessment. You can do this by approaching an audiologist or seeking a referral from your primary care physician if you need a recommendation. After that, a hearing loss specialist will determine the details of your hearing loss that will help find the right treatment for you.

Now that you’ve been assessed, you’ll be able to begin your treatment. It’s crucial at this stage that you are seeing an audiologist that works well with your specific hearing loss. Researching through online reviews or asking people you trust are good ways to find an audiologist who fits your personal requirements. If you find out that the audiologist you picked isn’t right for you, don’t be afraid to try someone different! It may take a while to find the perfect match but the time is worth it.

After you’ve found an audiologist that you trust, it’s time to start looking for a hearing aid. Just like your audiologist, you might not find the right hearing aid on the first try. It’s important to get a hearing aid from a dispenser that allows you a trial period before you commit to your purchase because finding the right one requires time both from you and your audiologist. During this trial period your brain will take a while to acclimate to the new information being provided by the hearing aid, and only then will you be able to assess its performance accurately. Wait a couple weeks after getting your trial hearing aid to see your audiologist and have the settings adjusted to fit your needs better. This process may require multiple trips to have your hearing aid tweaked until it functions smoothly.

Don’t be worried during this process if you don’t see automatic results. Your audiologist may even recommend a different type of hearing aid if prior ones don’t work out. Patience is required if you want to find a hearing aid that works well with your specific kind and degree of hearing loss. It’s important to stay realistic and understand that this is not an instant fix or flawless process, but it’s also easy to become frustrated when something doesn’t work out.

Remember to use all of your resources – meet with other people who have hearing loss and communicate with them. Your journey is personal to you, but many others have had similar experiences and are willing to share their advice. Keep being patient until you find the right hearing aid for you, and you might be the one sharing advice one day.