While this is probably one of the least known medical positions, it is also one that will play a pivotal role in the future. Below we explain what an hearing aid specialist is, and what they do.
Definition of an hearing aid specialist
A hearing aid specialist is a healthcare technician who is trained in audiology and is officially authorised to fit hearing aids. Their professional profile can be compared to that of an optician in terms of vision care.
What is audiology?
The Official Report published in 2014 by the SEORL-CCC (Spanish Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery) states that audiology is a science that studies hearing health and disorders, while the AELFA-IF (Spanish Association of Logopedics, Phoniatrics and Audiology, and Iberoamerican Association of Phonoaudiology) points out that this science is dedicated to the study of hearing, but also to the diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and prevention of hearing disorders. This multidisciplinary science is complemented by additional scientific knowledge related to the field of otorhinolaryngology (ENT), such as physics, neurology, electroacoustics, genetics or electronics.
The functions of a hearing aid specialist
According to the protocol for hearing aid fitting established by the Asociación Nacional de Audioprotesistas (Spanish Association of Hearing Aid Specialists), in order to guarantee the success of the hearing rehabilitation process, the hearing aid specialist must see each patient before the fitting and be informed of their family background, their levels of exposure to noise in the workplace or on a social basis and any other factors that may help achieve a more accurate diagnosis of the hearing impairment.
Once the patient questionnaire has been filled, this hearing aid specialist conducts a detailed study and carries out the relevant hearing tests in order to achieve a precise analysis of the patient’s specific requirements and determine which hearing aid is most suitable for them.
To begin the study, the specialist carries out a medical test called an audiometric hearing test to assess the state of the patient’s hearing health. Once the patient’s hearing thresholds have been established, along with the degree of hearing loss and the condition of their auditory system, the specialist assesses the results and selects the appropriate type of hearing aid.
Next, they must study the internal shape of the ear and the ear canal by making an internal impression. This is done by placing a paste in the ear canal, which solidifies and acts as a mold for the selected hearing aid.
Finally, the specialist adjusts and configures the hearing aid to suit the patient’s needs and places it in the ear to test that it works correctly. Afterwards, the hearing aid specialist will carry out regular tests to prevent any issues, ensure the correct maintenance of the device and provide the patient with advice on using and adapting it.
A career with a future
The 2008 Survey on disability, personal autonomy and dependency situations (EDAD) by the INE (National Statistics Institute) states that there are more than 1 million people with hearing disabilities of different types and levels of severity in Spain. According to the online audiology magazine Gaceta Audio, these figures have risen over recent years and are creating a higher demand for hearing aid specialists.
Soon, we will publish a post that goes into more detail about hearing aids and how hearing aid specialists adapt them to suit each patient’s requirements.