If the unfamiliar generates anxiety, then a trip to the hearing specialist is particularly stressful. While the majority of us have experience with the family physician and the local dentist, the trip to the hearing specialist could be a first.
It sure would be beneficial to have someone illustrate the process ahead of time, wouldn’t it? Well, continue reading, because as you’ll see, the process of having your hearing examined is normally 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 an employee at the front desk who will give you a couple of forms to complete. Shortly after filling out the forms, a hearing specialist will escort you into a room to get started on the hearing assessment, which is composed 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. Preparing for this step is critical, because this is where you get to describe to the hearing specialist the specifics of your hearing loss, what you would like from treatment, and your unique hearing needs.
This part is all about you: what do you want to accomplish with superior hearing? Do you have the desire to play a music instrument again? Do you desire to be more engaged in work meetings? Do you desire to be more involved at social gatherings? The more you can reveal to your hearing specialist the better.
Next comes the testing.
Part 2: Otoscopy
The initial diagnostic test to be completed is referred to as an otoscopy. An otoscope is used to visually assess the ear canal and eardrum to find out if your hearing loss is connected with infections, earwax buildup, or blockages. If the explanation for your hearing loss is something as uncomplicated as earwax accumulation, you could potentially start hearing better within minutes simply from expert earwax removal.
Part 3: Tympanometry
The second test is known as tympanometry, used to test the eardrum and middle ear. A device is inserted into the ear that will change the air pressure, calculating how your ear reacts to various pressures.
To fully grasp this test, you have to first know that hearing loss is categorized into one of two broad types:
- Sensorineural hearing loss — this is the most widespread hearing loss. It is also described as noise-induced hearing loss and it involves damage of the nerve cells of hearing.
- Conductive hearing loss — this hearing loss results from blockages or obstructions that limit sound conduction before the sound hits the nerve cells of hearing.
Tympanometry is a test that can help to rule out conductive hearing loss, to establish that there are no blockages, infections, or middle-ear-bone complications. Conversely, Audiometry, which is tackled next, will measure sensorineural hearing loss.
Part 4: Audiometry
The last group of tests will be completed in a soundproof room. These tests are jointly referred to as audiometry and will measure your hearing range and sensitivity. Audiometry is the best method to quantify sensorineural hearing loss.
With the use of an audiometer, the hearing specialist will be able to pinpoint:
- Which frequencies you can hear comfortably and which you have a hard time with.
- The minimum decibel levels, at a range of frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
- The precise calculations associated with your hearing loss (as documented on an audiogram).
- Your capacity to recognize speech, with or without background noise.
The test on its own, from your viewpoint, will be comfortable and straightforward. You will be presented with sounds and speech through earphones and will be instructed to identify when you can hear the sounds by pushing a control or raising your hand.
Assessing results and planning treatment
After the testing is complete, your hearing specialist will review 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 benefit from assistive listening devices or hearing aids, your hearing specialist will work with you to identify the best solution for you, your finances, your lifestyle, and your cosmetic concerns.
Pretty painless for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?