Are you thinking about making an appointment to get your hearing checked? (Good for you, by the way — being proactive about your hearing health will go a long way towards your overall health and quality of life.) If so, it can be helpful to know what to expect when you visit your local hearing healthcare provider. Procedures may vary from state to state, but we want to give you a general idea of what you can expect.
You’ll be asked to complete intake forms
As with any healthcare appointment, you will likely have some paperwork to complete when you arrive. Hearing care professionals are trained to not only assess your hearing but determine if your hearing concerns may be caused by a medical condition. If there is a suspected medical condition, they can refer you to a medical professional when appropriate.
Much of the information they need to make that determination will be acquired through the paperwork you complete when you check in. Completing it to the best of your ability will help the hearing care provider give you the best care possible. You may be asked to provide the following information on your intake form:
- Insurance information – Some insurance plans cover hearing testing and/or hearing aids. When you provide your insurance information, the clinic can check your benefits and determine your eligibility/coverage.
- Medical history – There are several medical conditions that seem completely unrelated to your ears but, in fact, could be linked. For example, those treated for cancer and undergone certain chemotherapies are at higher risk for hearing loss. Answering questions about your medical history will help your provider identify potential causes of your hearing loss, even if you weren’t aware of the connection.
- Medications (including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements) — You would be amazed at the hundreds of drugs and supplements that can cause hearing loss or other ear-related symptoms. Your hearing professional can help rule out this potential cause.
- Ear-related symptoms/history – The hearing professional will definitely want to know if you’ve had past ear-related issues, such as ear ringing or tinnitus, pain, previous exposure to loud sounds, history of infections, or previous ear surgeries.
- Your hearing concerns – It’s important for you to describe any hearing difficulties you’re having and in which situations/environments. The hearing care provider will learn a great deal from your test results, but no two people with the same hearing test results are alike. Let them know if you sometimes have trouble at work, on the phone, while in church, social activities, etc.
Your ears will be visually inspected
Your hearing healthcare professional will generally start by looking into your ears with a handheld scope, called an otoscope. They are looking for any signs of abnormalities or medical conditions that could be contributing to your hearing concerns. In addition, it’s possible you simply have a buildup of earwax that could be contributing to your hearing problem or may prevent accurate measurement of your hearing.
Your hearing will be tested
The main event! The testing procedure may vary between clinics and depending on your particular hearing issues and concerns. For that reason, don’t be surprised if your testing differs from a friend’s who told you about their hearing test experience. Testing may include:
- Pressure test to check the flexibility of your eardrum (and its ability to transmit sound)
- Tone test to measure how softly you can hear tones of different pitches (which will be charted on an audiogram)
- Speech test where you are asked to repeat words and/or sentences you hear at different levels
You’ll discuss the results
After testing, the hearing care professional will discuss your results and make recommendations for next steps. He or she may make a medical referral to your Primary Care Physician or an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist. Your hearing care professional may recommend a reevaluation in a few months to a year. If a hearing loss that doesn’t require further evaluation is revealed, he or she may recommend that you consider hearing aids or other assistive devices. Additional discussion of your hearing aid options may take place right away or may require a second appointment.
Annual hearing tests should be part of every adult’s health regimen
Depending on the results of testing, you should expect your hearing appointment to last approximately an hour. Your hearing is linked to so many things that impact your quality of life — including your career, relationships, physical and mental health, and more — so it’s important to be proactive, thorough, and treat any hearing loss before it turns into something bigger.
This blog was originally written by Lawanda Chester, Au.D., and originally published on www.starkey.com.