Who are the Hearing Aid Experts in South Africa?
Hearing aid experts fall essentially into one of two categories. Firstly, there are those who are responsible for all of the research and advanced technology that is required for their development, and who will later undertake their manufacture. In addition, there is a second body of specialists who perform the examination of the individuals who are experiencing some degree of auditory insufficiency, and who will subsequently employ their findings to determine the most appropriate means by which to compensate for it.
The latter group is comprised of intensively-trained healthcare professionals who are skilled in the discipline known as audiology. In South Africa, the hearing aid experts in this category are, without a doubt, the many specialists who staff the 20 institutes and satellite clinics that make up The Ear Institute network. These centres are equipped with the very latest, state-of-the-art equipment that enables them to perform a comprehensive evaluation of each patient, in order to determine the cause and the extent of auditory impairment quickly and precisely.
Anyone who may have reason to suspect that their ability to hear is not what it once was is free to make an appointment directly with his or her nearest centre, as no prior referral by a General Practitioner will be required. In larger centres, the hearing aid experts in attendance may include an ENT specialist and all will offer patients the services of one or more qualified and experienced audiologists.
Evaluation begins with an otoscopic examination of the ears to detect any obvious visible explanation for impairment, such as an infection that could mean any deafness experienced is probably both temporary and treatable. Where there are no such signs, an audiogram will follow. A machine is used to generate tones within the audible range. At each frequency, the volume is increased until the patient indicates it has been heard by pressing a button which generates a graph of volume against frequency – the audiogram.
These hearing aid experts, will repeat the process for each ear and conduct additional tests to check if the impairment is due to poor conduction of sound, a diminished ability to detect it, or both and classify it respectively as conductive, sensorineural or mixed deafness. Their findings will play a significant role in determining the most effect way to proceed.
In most cases of moderate to mild impairment, the solution is an electronic amplification device and the data obtained from the audiogram will be used to tune it selectively to boost those frequencies seen as most affected. In severe cases, the solution may be cochlear implantation. However, in all cases, the solution offered will be from us at The Ear Institute – also established hearing aid experts.