If the unfamiliar creates anxiety, then a trip to the hearing specialist is particularly nerve-racking. While the majority of us have experience with the family doctor and the town dentist, the trip to the hearing specialist may be a first.
It certainly would be useful to have someone demonstrate the process ahead of time, wouldn’t it? Well, continue reading, because as you’ll discover, the process of having your hearing evaluated is ordinarily easy, comfortable, and pain-free — with aspects that can actually be fun.
So here’s how it will go:
Just after you arrive at the office, you will check in with an employee at the front desk who will give you some forms to complete. Not long after submitting the forms, a hearing specialist will escort you into a room to get started on the hearing exam, 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. Preparing for this step is important, because this is where you get to tell the hearing specialist the specifics of your hearing loss, what you hope for from treatment, and your specialized hearing needs.
This part is all about you: what do you want to accomplish with better hearing? Do you want to play a music instrument again? Do you wish to be more engaged in work meetings? Do you want to be more lively at social gatherings? The more you can describe 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 identify if your hearing loss is connected with infections, earwax accumulation, or obstructions. If the cause of your hearing loss is something as quick and easy as earwax buildup, you could possibly start hearing better within a few minutes simply from expert earwax removal.
Part 3: Tympanometry
The following test is termed tympanometry, used to test the eardrum and middle ear. A device is inserted into the ear that will modify the air pressure, measuring how your ear reacts to different pressures.
To fully grasp 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 regularly occurring hearing loss. It is also defined as noise-induced hearing loss and it involves damage of the nerve cells of hearing.
- Conductive hearing loss — this hearing loss results from clogging or obstructions that limit sound transmission before the sound gets to the nerve cells of hearing.
Tympanometry is a test that can help to rule out conductive hearing loss, to be sure that there are no obstructions, infections, or middle-ear-bone conditions. Conversely, Audiometry, which is outlined next, will quantify sensorineural hearing loss.
Part 4: Audiometry
The concluding group of tests will be performed in a soundproof room. These tests are collectively referred to as audiometry and will quantify your hearing range and sensitivity. Audiometry is the best process to calculate sensorineural hearing loss.
With the use of an audiometer, the hearing specialist will be ready to establish:
- Which frequencies you can hear comfortably and which you have a hard time with.
- The minimal decibel levels, at differing frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
- The precise calculations correlated with your hearing loss (as captured on an audiogram).
- Your ability to understand speech, with or without background noise.
The test itself, from your standpoint, will be comfortable and effortless. 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 device or raising your hand.
Reviewing results and planning treatment
Soon after the testing is finished, your hearing specialist will go over 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 appropriate referral.
If your hearing loss can profit from assistive listening devices or hearing aids, your hearing specialist will work with you to decide on the perfect solution for you, your finances, your lifestyle, and your cosmetic considerations.
Pretty easy for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?