Over the phone he said, “The doctor told me that my MRI was clear. I do not have a brain tumor and I want to move forward and try hearing aids.” He was upbeat on the phone and obviously relieved with the finding.
Last month he approached me for new hearing aids but, my exam revealed an unexpected asymmetry in his left ear. I recommended that he postpone a trial with hearing aids until he consulted his physician about this finding. I was concerned about the possibility of an acoustic neuroma. This is a rare, but potentially life threatening tumor.
As we spoke on the phone, I was thinking of three other patients who we referred for medical exam before proceeding with hearing aids.
My associate Jodi referred one of those patients. As a result, he had a lifesaving brain surgery that removed a tumor from his left ear. He lost his left ear hearing because of surgery and wears a hearing aid in his right ear.
Another patient had middle ear reconstructive surgery that eliminated her need to wear a hearing aid.
The third patient was furious! He perceived that my recommendation for medical evaluation was unnecessary because he was an experienced hearing aid user. He thought I created an obstacle and was insincere.
Most people have a benign deterioration of hearing over time and simply need hearing aids. But, if your audiologist recommends that you consult a physician prior to buying hearing aids then please give them credit. They are more concerned with your hearing health than they are with selling you hearing aids and, they are following the law. Certain anomalies in a hearing exam dictate a recommendation for evaluation by a physician. Yes, there is a loophole that allows hearing aid salesmen to solicit a waiver but, that is not always in your best interest.
A proper hearing exam by an audiologist is the most important part of shopping for hearing aid.