If the unfamiliar causes anxiety, then a visit to the hearing specialist is especially nerve-racking. While almost all of us have experience with the family doctor and the neighborhood dentist, the visit to the hearing specialist might be a first.
It certainly would be beneficial to have someone teach you the process in advance, wouldn’t it? Well, continue reading, because as you’ll see, the process of having your hearing tested is ordinarily simple, comfortable, and pain-free — with portions that can actually be fun.
So here’s how it will go:
Just after you arrive at the office, you will check in with a staff member at the front desk who will hand you some forms to fill out. Soon after completing the forms, a hearing specialist will come with you into a room to begin the hearing evaluation, which is composed of four parts:
Part 1: Case History
The hearing specialist will begin the process by getting to know you, your medical history, and your hearing loss symptoms. Preparation for this step is important, because this is where you get to explain to the hearing specialist the specifics of your hearing loss, what you are expecting from treatment, and your special hearing needs.
This portion is all about you: what do you want to attain with superior hearing? Do you have the desire to play a music instrument again? Do you want to be more engaged in work meetings? Do you want 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 initial diagnostic test to be carried out is called an otoscopy. An otoscope is used to visually inspect the ear canal and eardrum to find out if your hearing loss is connected to infections, earwax accumulation, or obstructions. If the cause for your hearing loss is something as simplistic as earwax accumulation, you could possibly begin hearing better within a matter of minutes simply from expert earwax removal.
Part 3: Tympanometry
The second test is termed tympanometry, used to test the eardrum and middle ear. A device is placed into the ear that will change the air pressure, measuring how your ear responds to different pressures.
To fully grasp this test, you have to first understand that hearing loss is categorized into one of two general classes:
- Sensorineural hearing loss — this is the most prevalent 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 blockages or obstructions that constrain sound transmission before the sound reaches the nerve cells of hearing.
Tympanometry is a test that can help to rule out conductive hearing loss, to establish that there are no obstructions, infections, or middle-ear-bone issues. Conversely, Audiometry, which is considered next, will quantify sensorineural hearing loss.
Part 4: Audiometry
The concluding group of tests will be completed in a soundproof room. These tests are jointly known as audiometry and will evaluate your hearing range and sensitivity. Audiometry is the best process to measure sensorineural hearing loss.
With the use of an audiometer, the hearing specialist will be able to determine:
- Which frequencies you can hear comfortably and which you have a tough time with.
- The minimum decibel levels, at multiple frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
- The precise measurements correlated with your hearing loss (as documented on an audiogram).
- Your capacity to grasp speech, with or without background noise.
The test itself, from your viewpoint, will be comfortable and uncomplicated. You will be presented with sounds and speech through earphones and will be asked to reveal when you can hear the sounds by pushing a control or raising your hand.
Assessing results and planning treatment
After the testing is finished, your hearing specialist will go over your results with you. If your hearing loss requires medical or surgical treatment (due to infections or middle-ear-bone problems, for instance), your hearing specialist can make the appropriate referral.
If your hearing loss can profit from assistive listening devices or hearing aids, your hearing specialist will work with you to find the perfect solution for you, your finances, your lifestyle, and your aesthetic considerations.
Pretty simple for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?