If the unfamiliar generates anxiety, then a trip to the hearing specialist is especially stressful. While virtually all of us have experience with the family physician and the town dentist, the trip to the hearing specialist could be a first.
It sure would be nice to have someone elaborate on the process ahead of time, wouldn’t it? Well, continue reading, because as you’ll find out, the process of getting your hearing tested is ordinarily easy, comfortable, and pain-free — with portions that can actually be fun.
So here’s how it will go:
After you arrive at the office, you will check in with a staff member at the front desk who will give you a couple of forms to complete. Not long after filling in the forms, a hearing specialist will accompany you into a room to start the hearing assessment, which is made up of four parts:
Part 1: Case History
The hearing specialist will start the process by getting to know you, your medical history, and your hearing loss symptoms. Preparation for this step is crucial, because this is where you get to relay to the hearing specialist the particulars of your hearing loss, what you hope for from treatment, and your personalized hearing needs.
This part is all about you: what do you want to achieve with greater hearing? Do you wish to play a music instrument again? Do you desire to be more involved in work meetings? Do you wish to be more lively at social gatherings? The more you can tell your hearing specialist the better.
Next comes the testing.
Part 2: Otoscopy
The first diagnostic test to be performed is called an otoscopy. An otoscope is used to visually examine the ear canal and eardrum to check if your hearing loss is connected with infections, earwax buildup, or obstructions. If the cause of your hearing loss is something as elementary as earwax buildup, you could potentially start hearing better within minutes simply from expert earwax removal.
Part 3: Tympanometry
The next test is termed tympanometry, used to test the eardrum and middle ear. A gadget is placed into the ear that will change the air pressure, evaluating how your ear responds to numerous pressures.
To have an understanding of this test, you have to first understand that hearing loss is categorized into one of two general types:
- Sensorineural hearing loss — this is the most widespread hearing loss. It is also identified as noise-induced hearing loss and it involves destruction of the nerve cells of hearing.
- Conductive hearing loss — this hearing loss results from clogging or obstructions that limit sound transmission before the sound reaches the nerves of hearing.
Tympanometry is a test that can help to rule out conductive hearing loss, to make sure that there are no blockages, infections, or middle-ear-bone conditions. Conversely, Audiometry, which is described next, will quantify sensorineural hearing loss.
Part 4: Audiometry
The last group of tests will be completed in a soundproof room. These tests are collectively known as audiometry and will assess your hearing range and sensitivity. Audiometry is the best methodology to calculate sensorineural hearing loss.
With the use of an audiometer, the hearing specialist will be prepared to determine:
- Which frequencies you can hear clearly and which you have a hard time with.
- The minimal decibel levels, at varied frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
- The precise calculations associated with your hearing loss (as recorded on an audiogram).
- Your ability to comprehend speech, with or without background noise.
The test itself, from your standpoint, will be comfortable and straightforward. You will be presented with sounds and speech through headphones and will be requested to reveal when you can hear the sounds by pressing a control or lifting your hand.
Reviewing results and planning treatment
Shortly after the testing is finished, your hearing specialist will assess your results with you. If your hearing loss will require medical or surgical treatment (due to infections or middle-ear-bone problems, for example), your hearing specialist can make the appropriate referral.
If your hearing loss can reap benefits from assistive listening devices or hearing aids, your hearing specialist will work with you to decide on the best solution for you, your budget, your lifestyle, and your cosmetic considerations.
Pretty simple for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?