If you are awaiting a hearing test, congratulations on taking a major step towards transforming your hearing health and wellness! You may be feeling a little anxious about evaluating your hearing which is normal. Confronting changes to your health can be overwhelming and stressful. But we want you to know that a hearing evaluation is a seamless process that is noninvasive and painless. Hearing tests are conducted by hearing healthcare specialists who have extensive training and knowledge of hearing loss and treatment. Learning what you can expect from this process can help alleviate any stress or questions you have. The hearing evaluation process consists of the following steps:
- Intake process. The first part of your hearing consultation appointment will be similar to most medical appointments you’ve had. It will start with completing any necessary paperwork and providing intake information. You will then discuss different aspects of your health and provide background information. This includes any history of hearing loss, the symptoms you are experiencing, and lifestyle factors that can affect your hearing health. This includes what you do for work, the types of environments you regularly navigate, any hobbies/activities you regularly participate in etc. These factors can help illuminate potential sources or triggers of your symptoms. You will be guided through the hearing evaluation process and what you can expect.
- Ear inspection. Your hearing healthcare provider will then take a close look at your ears, including inspecting your ear canal. Using an otoscope, an instrument with a light that is designed to examine the ears, your provider will carefully evaluate your ears. They will specifically check for any obstructions that could be preventing soundwaves from being fully absorbed and/or traveling through the ear canal to reach the inner ear. Common obstructions include earwax that has accumulated in the ear canal, bone growths, a perforated eardrum, and ear infection. These blockages can cause conductive hearing loss which is a temporary type of hearing loss that can be treated. If necessary, earwax will be removed before moving onto the hearing test.
- Hearing test. There are a few types of hearing tests that your hearing healthcare provider may use. All are non invasive and painless and the most common types are:
- Pure tone audiometry testing: the most common hearing test, this process involves wearing headphones in a soundproof space (room or booth). Headphones are connected to an audiometer which will play different sounds at varying frequencies. Guided by your hearing healthcare provider, you will indicate what you can hear by either raising your hand or pressing a button. This test measures the softest sounds you are able to hear and the sounds that are more challenging for you to detect.
- Speech audiometry testing: this test is very similar to pure tone audiometry testing but rather than using sounds, this test uses speech. Live speech will be played at different volumes and you will indicate what you can hear. This helps identify the types of speech that you may struggle with hearing and processing which is especially useful in understanding your hearing loss in the context of conversations.
- Reviewing results. Hearing test results are captured on an audiogram which is a chart that visually shows the specifics of your hearing loss. This includes the type of hearing loss and degree of impairment for each ear. You will be walked through your results and will hear more about the sounds and speech that you have difficulty hearing. This is a great time to ask questions about your hearing loss. Your hearing healthcare provider will also recommend treatment options that best meet your hearing needs. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. Using several important factors, your provider will recommend devices that are optimal for your hearing health.
- Next steps. The follow-up appointment to your hearing consultation is a hearing aid fitting. This appointment involves receiving your hearing aids, having them programmed with specific settings that meet your hearing needs, and learning all about how to use and maintain them.
This process is informative and effective. Treating your hearing loss offers numerous life-changing benefits that allow you to live more actively. Contact us today to learn more about the hearing evaluation process.