Suzanne Yoder, Hearing Test Expert

Hearing test expert, Suzanne YoderDr. Suzanne Yoder is the founder and current owner of Hearwell Center, currently operating out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Yoder has a bachelor's degree from Thiel College, a master's degree in Audiology from the University of Pittsburgh and an Au.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology, the Academy of Doctors of Audiology and the Pennsylvania Academy of Audiology.

Prior to opening Hearwell Center, Dr. Yoder gained experience by working closely with ENT physicians, hospitals, schools, industrial programs and other private practices. She can professionally evaluate, diagnose and treat hearing and vestibular disorders.

Dr. Yoder is board certified by the American Board of Audiology and licensed by the state of Pennsylvania to practice audiology and to dispense hearing devices. Along with the doctoral level of education, Dr. Yoder has a strong sense of commitment to the hard of hearing and is very empathetic with those with hearing loss. She is motivated to educate patients and the community to understand hearing disorders and the best solutions for each individual.

What initially made you interested in entering the field of audiology?
I grew up hard of hearing and received my first hearing aids by kindergarten. I was fascinated by the work of my audiologist as he cared for my hearing over the years. When I went to college I decided that I would like to work with people who are hard of hearing like myself and I looked into deaf education, speech language pathology and audiology. I had a great deal more interest in audiology because of the technical aspect of working with devices and software. I also like that it was very hands on and one-to-one.

Is there any preparation necessary prior to taking a hearing test?
Patients who need their hearing tested because they have noticed a change or a problem with their hearing can use their health insurance coverage to pay for the test as a medical necessity. Medicare is one of the few insurance companies that still require a physician script in order to see an audiologist. If the test is being performed as a routine evaluation the patient should contact their insurance company to see if routine testing is covered as a preventative service. When patients have their hearing examined by an audiologist they should expect that a complete health history will be taken along with listing medications, past surgeries and family history of hearing disorders. It may seem that some of the questions are not hearing related but there are many health risks that can lead to or complicate hearing loss. Therefore, patients should bring with them a physician script (if using Medicare), insurance card, list of medication and a form of payment to cover co-pays or other related charges.

How often should a person's hearing be tested?
Many industrial workers or people exposed to noise are tested annually regardless of complaints because noise is a known cause of hearing loss and hearing conservation is regulated by the federal government by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Newborns are tested in the hospital before being discharged to go home and followed closely if there are concerns. School children are tested in the school system on an annual basis in kindergarten through 3rd grade, again in 7th and 11th grade. Frequently family physicians will screen pediatric patients on an annual basis as well.

There are no clear rules for adults. Adults are told to have their hearing tested when they notice a problem. Some insurance companies cover annual hearing evaluations suggesting that annual hearing testing is proper and part of preventative medicine.

How can a person determine if he or she is a candidate for a hearing aid?
A full diagnostic evaluation by an audiologist will determine the type of hearing loss and the best treatment plan for that hearing loss. Hearing aids are appropriate most people who have hearing loss but this is just one type of treatment for hearing loss. Some hearing disorders are correctable by surgery or medical intervention and if this is the case, an audiologist will refer to a medical doctor. Some hearing loss is too severe for hearing aids or too mild for hearing aids and alternative devices may be recommended. Without a full evaluation, candidacy for hearing aids cannot be determined.

Are there any steps or measures people who are hard of hearing may take in order to improve their hearing, without use of a hearing aid?
Assuming the hearing loss is not correctable with medical intervention, ear wax removal or surgery hard of hearing individuals that choose not to use amplification still have some options. The following answer does not address medical intervention.

Auditory training can be used with our without hearing aids. Though, if hearing aids are recommended, the training will be more successful if the patient has hearing aids. Auditory training is a way of improving the skill of listening. Listening is an active skill that has to be developed and maintained. People with hearing loss often lose this ability slowly overtime without realizing it.

Hard of hearing individuals can also follow communication guidelines to prevent communication breakdown by using lipreading and visual cues as well as controlling their environment. For instance, if they know they cannot hear well in noise then they should try to avoid noise. Again, communication guidelines are going to be more useful if the patient has proper amplification when recommended.

Assistive devices can be used with or without hearing aids. These devices serve a specific function in hearing improvement. For instance, you can have a special device for hearing the television and typically that is the only function that device will serve. There are also phone amplification options, doorbell and phone alerts, smoke detector alerts and much more. Again, these devices work best in combination with hearing aids where hearing aids are recommended.

What degree of education and training is necessary to administer a hearing test?
You can obtain a hearing screening and testing by a number of professionals: school nurses, industrial nurses, physicians, physician assistants, audiologist and hearing instrument specialist.

However a full differential diagnostic evaluation can only be completed by an audiologist or a physician (or those under the direct supervision of an audiologist or physician).

Audiologists are the primary health-care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss and balance disorders in adults and children. They are specifically trained in audiology by an accredited university and earn doctorate level education. Audiologists typically attend college for a total of 8 years earning both a bachelor's degree and a doctorate degree. The training includes a 52 week internship, typically in the final year of graduate school. Audiologists can choose a clinical focus and earn an Au.D. or equivalent doctorate degree or a research focus and earn a Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate degree.

Although audiologist earn a doctorate degree to practice audiology nation wide some audiologist will have their master’s degree and still be in practice. These audiologists were grandfathered when the profession transitioned to require a doctorate. It is common to see both master and doctorate audiologists in practice.

What is the most significant piece of advice you can offer to people who wish to get a hearing test?
When you visit an audiologist for a hearing evaluation expect to be treated as a patient and to have your individual concerns addressed including your goals and expectations for hearing aids. Audiologists are trained to be counselors and to provide rehabilitation to the hard of hearing. Audiological evaluation goes further than testing for hearing aids. Audiologists evaluate to find ways to improve communication and to meet the patient needs in any number of ways.

Do you have any further comments or suggestions regarding hearing testing?
I encourage anyone looking into getting their hearing tested to visit the following websites to find a professional:

To find a hearing test, visit our Hearing Test Directory. To learn more about hearing tests, read our Hearing Test Guide.

 


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