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 neighborhood dentist, the visit to the hearing specialist might be a first.
It certainly would be nice to have someone explain the process in advance, wouldn’t it? Well, keep reading, because as you’ll find out, the process of getting your hearing tested is ordinarily simple, comfortable, and pain-free — with parts 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 a few forms to complete. Shortly after filling in the forms, a hearing specialist will come with you into a room to get started on the hearing assessment, which consists of four parts:
Part 1: Case History
The hearing specialist begins the process by getting to know you, your medical-related history, and your hearing loss symptoms. Preparation for this step is important, because this is where you get to express to the hearing specialist the specifics of your hearing loss, what you expect from treatment, and your special hearing needs.
This part is all about you: what do you want to attain with enhanced hearing? Do you wish to play a music instrument again? Do you wish to be more engaged in work meetings? Do you want to be more energetic at social gatherings? The more you can relay to your hearing specialist the better.
Next comes the testing.
Part 2: Otoscopy
The first diagnostic test to be completed is termed an otoscopy. An otoscope is used to visually inspect the ear canal and eardrum to find if your hearing loss is correlated to infections, earwax accumulation, or obstructions. If the reason behind your hearing loss is something as uncomplicated as earwax buildup, you could most likely start hearing better within a few minutes simply from professional earwax removal.
Part 3: Tympanometry
The next test is referred to as tympanometry, used to test the eardrum and middle ear. An instrument is inserted into the ear that will change the air pressure, calculating how your ear reacts to assorted pressures.
To have an understanding of this test, you have to first understand that hearing loss falls into one of two general types:
- Sensorineural hearing loss — this is the most widespread hearing loss. It is also referred to 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 restrict sound conduction before the sound reaches the nerve cells of hearing.
Tympanometry is a test that can help to rule out conductive hearing loss, to make certain that there are no obstructions, infections, or middle-ear-bone issues. Conversely, Audiometry, which is discussed next, will measure sensorineural hearing loss.
Part 4: Audiometry
The last group of tests will be performed in a soundproof room. These tests are jointly known as audiometry and will calculate 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 ready to determine:
- Which frequencies you can hear clearly and which you have a difficult time with.
- The minimum decibel levels, at various frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
- The precise calculations associated with your hearing loss (as recorded on an audiogram).
- Your ability to fully understand speech, with or without background noise.
The test itself, from your viewpoint, will be comfortable and easy. You will be presented with sounds and speech through headsets and will be requested to signal when you can hear the sounds by pressing a button or raising your hand.
Assessing results and planning treatment
Soon after the testing is finished, your hearing specialist will look at your results with you. If your hearing loss necessitates medical or surgical treatment (due to infections or middle-ear-bone problems, for instance), your hearing specialist can make the applicable referral.
If your hearing loss can profit from assistive listening devices or hearing aids, your hearing specialist will collaborate with you to choose the best option for you, your budget, your lifestyle, and your cosmetic concerns.
Pretty simple for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?