If you’ve never experienced a trip to the audiologist before, you may be wondering what it’s really like, and what takes place once you get inside the consulting room. You may suspect hearing loss yourself, or be referred for an audiological exam by your doctor. Your appointment will help to determine what, if any, degree of hearing loss has been sustained, identify a cause and suggest some possible ways to help.
This process is carried out via some simple, practical tests by your audiologist – a trained professional who has extensive experience in evaluating, diagnosing and treating hearing loss and hearing related issues such as balance problems or tinnitus. Your exam is likely to take no more than an hour, including time for your audiologist to explain their findings – some take no more than 20 minutes! So, it’s a quick process where you can expect to understand your condition straight away. Here’s what happens once you step through the doors for your appointment:
Background information check
When you first arrive, as with any medical appointment, there will be paperwork to fill in, especially if this is your first visit. You are likely to be asked to run through a brief description of your current state of health, any preexisting medical conditions or medications that you may be taking. You will likely be asked about the current problems you’re experiencing, and if you have ever had issues with your hearing before.
This will help your audiologist to build up a more complete picture of your current state of health, and any identifiable issues that may be causing hearing difficulties. For example, the likelihood of any kind of infection or traumatic injury that may be the cause of hearing loss. You may also be asked about your recent movements, as certain circumstances like concerts or large sporting events or certain working environments, have the potential to cause noise induced hearing loss.
If you are feeling nervous, it might be a good idea to note down any questions that you especially want to ask in advance. It may also help to ask to make notes or even record the conversation so that you can refer back later.
Your audiological exam
After the paperwork and preliminary questions, you’ll proceed to take a few practical, non-invasive tests. The combination may depend on what kind of hearing loss the audiologist suspects, based on your answers to the questions at the beginning of your session. These usually involve one or more of these three tests – otoscopy, audiometry or tympanometry. An otoscopy is just a fancy word for the examination of your ear canal. The audiologist uses an instrument called an otoscope to look for signs of physical damage or obstruction in the ear canal, such as a buildup of wax deposits or any rupturing to the eardrum.
Audiometry is the most common type of hearing test, and it’s designed to measure the degree of hearing loss. You will be shown to a quiet room or booth and given a pair of earphones. Then you will be played a recorded track, which features noises of different pitches and frequencies. You will be asked to note whenever you hear a noise being played – sometimes simply by raising your hand or speaking, occasionally by pressing a button. This will give an indication of the range you can hear sounds at. The results from this test will be plotted on what is called an audiogram – a graph which indicates the pitch your hearing can reach.
The third type of test – tympanometry – is not so common to encounter. This is a more physical test, where the audiologist will apply a light pressure to monitor the response. This test measures the range of motion your eardrum has to conduct sound and is used where issues are suspected with fluid retention, infections or dysfunction in the Eustachian tubes.
Your hearing test results
After the testing is over, your audiologist will walk you through the results in detail. They will present their findings and give any recommendations for types of treatment or devices that may help. Your results are plotted on an audiogram which will indicate the level of hearing loss that has been found. If you are recommended to purchase hearing aids, your audiologist can talk you through the different technologies and styles available which may be suitable for you. In some cases, they may also recommend protective equipment such as custom earplugs.
If you need to book an appointment to get your hearing checked out today, Nola Aronson’s Advanced Audiology is here to help. Call us today at (661) 253-3277 to discuss your requirements and book in to see one of our friendly professional team.