If you are worried about your hearing, the first thing you want to do is book an appointment to see someone who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of auditory issues. Hearing loss can be gradual or sudden, depending on what triggers the loss for you, but either way, the signs begin to stack up as it progresses.
One minute you could be hearing as you have always heard, but the next, you’re turning the television volume up and asking your friends to repeat themselves while they’re talking. Hearing loss may be something that comes with age, but it doesn’t mean that you should have to deal with it alone.
This is where your audiologist can help. If you’ve never been to the audiologist before, you may be wondering what will actually occur at the appointment and if there is anything you can do to prepare.
The first thing that you should know about seeing an audiologist is that it’s not the same as seeing your regular practitioner – it’s better – because this appointment is dedicated solely to your auditory health.
What does an audiologist do?
When you break a hip, you see an orthopedic surgeon – they specialize in all things hip-related. When your hearing is the thing that’s slowing down, you speak to an audiologist. Audiologists are highly trained professionals, and they work to evaluate your hearing, diagnose the issues you are experiencing and treat those issues accordingly.
They can teach you how to manage your hearing loss with hearing aids, and it’s reassuring to know that audiologists can have either a master’s or a doctorate. A Doctor of Audiology is equivalent to a Ph.D., so you can be assured that you are dealing with an expert in their field.
Audiologists use a variety of tests to evaluate and assess your ability to hear and balance. Some will provide you with hearing devices that will enable you to get your hearing as stable as possible. During your first appointment, you will go through your medical history and talk through any hearing loss symptoms that you have been dealing with. It can help to have a second set of ears with you to hear everything that your audiologist is saying, as the support for hearing loss is invaluable.
Your audiologist will run a few tests with you when you attend the appointment, and there are three main types of test:
Otoscopy: This test involves looking into your ear canals with an otoscope and a penlight. The audiologist will check your ears for any blockages, wax or eardrum issues.
Tympanometry: For a middle ear function test, a tympanometry test is necessary. This will assess the way that your eardrum responds to light pressure. Anything that will inhibit the eardrum’s motion can be seen, as can a dysfunction with the eustachian tube.
Audiometry: Lastly, an audiometry test comes in two types – air and bone conduction. You will sit in a soundtreated booth and be asked to press a button or gesture when you hear a sound played by your audiologist. Air conduction will determine the softest possible sound that you can listen to. They’ll give you earphones to listen through, and several different pitches are used to help you figure out what you can hear. Bone conduction will determine what you can listen to at the softest pitch with inner ear stimulation. A bone vibrator is usually placed right behind the ear, but don’t worry – it’s not uncomfortable!
Your audiologist will sit with you to talk you through each of the test results once they are all completed. From here, any further recommendations for hearing aids of help will be talked through in an easy to understand manner.
An audiologist will offer you the chance to ask as many questions as you need to. If other medical issues are going on that cause the inner ear issues with balance or hearing, they’ll talk you through their findings.