If the unfamiliar causes anxiety, then a visit to the hearing specialist is particularly stressful. While virtually all of us have experience with the family physician and the town dentist, the visit to the hearing specialist could be a first.
It certainly would be beneficial to have someone explain the process up front, wouldn’t it? Well, continue reading, because as you’ll find out, the process of getting your hearing examined is generally straight forward, comfortable, and pain-free — with aspects 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 few forms to complete. Not long after finishing the forms, a hearing specialist will escort you into a room to get started on the hearing exam, which is composed of four parts:
Part 1: Case History
The hearing specialist starts off the process by getting to know you, your health history, and your hearing loss symptoms. Preparation for this step is critical, because this is where you get to tell the hearing specialist the specifics of your hearing loss, what you are expecting from treatment, and your unique hearing needs.
This part is all about you: what do you want to accomplish with healthier hearing? Do you have the desire to play a music instrument again? Do you desire to be more engaged in work meetings? Do you wish 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 initial diagnostic test to be completed is termed an otoscopy. An otoscope is used to visually explore the ear canal and eardrum to determine if your hearing loss is linked with infections, earwax buildup, or obstructions. If the source of your hearing loss is something as uncomplicated as earwax accumulation, you could potentially start hearing better within a matter of minutes simply from professional earwax removal.
Part 3: Tympanometry
The second test is referred to as tympanometry, used to test the eardrum and middle ear. An instrument is placed into the ear that will vary the air pressure, evaluating how your ear responds to numerous pressures.
To have an understanding of this test, you have to first realize that hearing loss is categorized into one of two general groups:
- Sensorineural hearing loss — this is the most common hearing loss. It is also described as noise-induced hearing loss and it involves injury of the nerve cells of hearing.
- Conductive hearing loss — this hearing loss results from clogging 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 ensure that there are no obstructions, infections, or middle-ear-bone ailments. Conversely, Audiometry, which is tackled 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 technique to calculate sensorineural hearing loss.
With the use of an audiometer, the hearing specialist will be ready to identify:
- Which frequencies you can hear clearly and which you have a difficult time with.
- The minimal decibel levels, at differing frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
- The precise calculations associated with your hearing loss (as captured on an audiogram).
- Your capacity to grasp speech, with or without background noise.
The test on its own, from your standpoint, will be comfortable and uncomplicated. You will be presented with sounds and speech through headsets and will be instructed to demonstrate when you can hear the sounds by pressing a device or lifting your hand.
Reviewing results and planning treatment
After the testing is finished, your hearing specialist will talk about your results with you. If your hearing loss will require 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 find the optimum solution for you, your budget, your lifestyle, and your cosmetic considerations.
Pretty painless for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?