If the unknown causes anxiety, then a visit to the hearing specialist is particularly nerve-racking. While the majority of us have experience with the family physician and the community dentist, the trip to the hearing specialist could be a first.
It certainly would be beneficial to have someone elaborate on the process ahead of time, wouldn’t it? Well, continue reading, because as you’ll see, the process of getting your hearing tested is usually 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 give you a couple of forms to fill out. Not long after submitting the forms, a hearing specialist will escort you into a room to get started with the hearing assessment, which consists of four parts:
Part 1: Case History
The hearing specialist starts 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 are expecting from treatment, and your special hearing needs.
This part is all about you: what do you want to attain with superior hearing? Do you desire to play a music instrument again? Do you desire to be more engaged in work meetings? Do you desire to be more active at social gatherings? The more you can reveal to your hearing specialist the better.
Next comes the testing.
Part 2: Otoscopy
The first diagnostic test to be performed is called an otoscopy. An otoscope is used to visually explore the ear canal and eardrum to establish if your hearing loss is correlated to infections, earwax buildup, or obstructions. If the source of your hearing loss is something as elementary as earwax accumulation, you could possibly begin hearing better within 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. A gadget is placed into the ear that will vary the air pressure, measuring how your ear reacts to assorted pressures.
To have an understanding of this test, you have to first know that hearing loss falls into one of two broad classes:
- Sensorineural hearing loss — this is the most widespread 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 blockages or obstructions that restrict sound transmission before the sound hits the nerve cells of hearing.
Tympanometry is a test that can help to rule out conductive hearing loss, to make sure that there are no blockages, infections, or middle-ear-bone conditions. Conversely, Audiometry, which is considered next, will measure sensorineural hearing loss.
Part 4: Audiometry
The final group of tests will be carried out in a soundproof room. These tests are collectively known as audiometry and will evaluate your hearing range and sensitivity. Audiometry is the best approach to quantify sensorineural hearing loss.
With the use of an audiometer, the hearing specialist will be ready to identify:
- Which frequencies you can hear well and which you have trouble with.
- The minimal decibel levels, at varied frequencies, at which you perceive sound.
- The precise measurements 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 outlook, will be comfortable and very simple. You will be presented with sounds and speech through earphones and will be instructed to display when you can hear the sounds by pressing a control or raising your hand.
Assessing results and planning treatment
Shortly after the testing is finished, your hearing specialist will evaluate 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 appropriate referral.
If your hearing loss can reap benefits from assistive listening devices or hearing aids, your hearing specialist will collaborate with you to find the optimum option for you, your finances, your lifestyle, and your cosmetic concerns.
Pretty easy for a lifetime of better hearing, isn’t it?