What to Expect at an Audiology or Hearing Appointment
If you’ve never been to an audiologist before, you may be feeling a bit apprehensive about going or unsure about what will happen. This is completely normal. However, it is much easier to calm these feelings if you have some information on what to expect when you go to your audiology appointment. Whether you are going just to check on your hearing health or because you suspect you may have some hearing issues, here’s what you need to know about what happens at a hearing appointment.
There isn’t much you will have to do to prepare for an audiology appointment. Just remember to bring your insurance information and any required identification or paperwork. It also helps to bring someone with you. Some audiologists will want to have a familiar voice as part of a hearing test, and it is also beneficial to have someone there to help with communication and write things down.
It’s important to give your audiologist as much information as possible to work with. Tell your audiologist about any hearing difficulties you have noticed, any balance issues, frequent ear infections (now or when you were younger), ringing in the ears, if you notice people mumbling more often than before, any trouble following conversations, and your concerns about the tests (if you have any). Note that hearing tests should not be painful or invasive and if you feel pain, you should let your audiologist know immediately.
What Tests Will the Audiologist Run?
The main types of tests that audiologists run at your standard hearing appointment may include:
- Otoscopy: This exam involves checking for ear wax, blockages, or any other physical issues with your ear canal or ear drum. Typically, the audiologist will use an otoscope (you have probably been examined with an otoscope before; general practitioners use these to check your ears as well). This will usually determine if there are any physical obstructions contributing to your hearing issues.
- Tympanometry: Tympanometry tests the responsiveness of your eardrum (also called the tympanic membrane) to light pressure. This should find anything that might be limiting the motion of the eardrum, such as fluid, perforation, or infection, and may determine if your hearing loss is stemming (at least in part) from your ear drum.
- Audiometry: This exam checks how your hearing is functioning, including how your ears interpret sounds via air conduction and bone conduction. You will be seated in a soundproof room and will raise your hand or push a button whenever you hear a sound. The air conduction portion will send pure tones across different frequencies through every section of your ear, and the bone conduction portion uses a vibration device placed behind your ear to determine how sensitive your ear bones and cochlea are.
- Speech Recognition Testing: The audiologist will also want to determine how well you can understand words and sentences spoken at normal listening levels and with various background noise levels. This will better inform your treatment options based on what kinds of background noises affect your ability to interpret speech.
Going Over Your Results
After you’ve finished your hearing tests, the results will be mapped on an audiogram. This visual representation of your hearing abilities shows the lowest levels at which you can detect different sound frequencies (in other words how loud a sound must be at a certain frequency in order for you to hear it). Your audiologist should take the time to go through the results with you.
Discussing Your Treatment Options
There are a number of treatment plans available for varying forms of hearing loss. Your treatment may be as simple as removing a blockage or treating an infection, or you may need hearing aids, cochlear implants, hybrid implants, or other treatment options in order to address your hearing loss. It’s important to ask questions and discuss your concerns with your audiologist at this time, including insurance concerns and what is most important to you about regaining some measure of your hearing (Playing an instrument? Talking with friends? Enjoying music?). This will help your audiologist make recommendations that will best improve your quality of life.
Hearing Aids as a Treatment Option
Your audiologist may recommend hearing aids as a treatment option to help you hear better on a day-to-day basis. However, most custom hearing aids are not covered by insurance, and they can cost thousands of dollars per ear. That’s why MDHearingAid has a line of affordable hearing aids with different features to fit your lifestyle. Find out why our customers love our hearing aids and contact us if you have any questions.