OK, you’ve finally decided to go in and get your hearing tested. Whatever your reasons for doing it — your spouse has been bugging you, or you’re tired of missing out, or [insert your own reason here] — it’s good to be prepped for what to expect.
While procedures may vary from state to state and clinic to clinic, below we’ll walk you through how a typical hearing test and consultation with a hearing healthcare professional goes. Depending on the results of testing, you should expect your hearing appointment to last approximately an hour.
1. You’ll be asked to complete intake forms
As with most healthcare appointments, you will likely have some paperwork to complete when you arrive (or they may send it beforehand). Hearing professionals are trained to not only assess your hearing but determine if your hearing issues are caused by a medical condition. If so, they can refer you to the appropriate medical professional.
Some of the information needed to make that determination will be acquired through the paperwork you complete at this first appointment. Completing it to the best of your ability will help the hearing professional give you the best care possible. You may be asked to provide the following information on your forms:
- 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, people who have been treated for cancer with certain chemotherapies are at higher risk for hearing loss. Answering questions about your medical history will help the hearing professional identify potential causes of your hearing loss, even if you weren’t aware of the connection.
- Medications — Believe it or not, certain medications and supplements can cause hearing loss or other ear-related issues. 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 issues with your ears, such as tinnitus, pain, previous exposure to loud sounds, history of infections, or surgeries.
2. You’ll discuss your hearing concerns
While the hearing professional will learn a great deal from your test results, no two people with the same hearing test results are alike. That is why this consultation step is so important. Expect them to ask you a lot of questions that are, of course, hearing related, but questions that also pertain to your lifestyle wants and needs.
It’s here where you’ll want to describe the hearing challenges you’re having, the situations where hearing is difficult and the things you hope to hear most. It’s also a great time to get answers to any other questions you have about hearing and hearing loss in general.
3. Your ears will be visually inspected
Your hearing professional will look 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 earwax buildup that could be contributing to your hearing problem or may prevent accurate measurement of your hearing. If that’s the case, they can safely remove it for you.
4. Your hearing will be tested
The testing procedure may vary between clinics or based 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 volumes.
5. You’ll discuss the results
After testing, the hearing care professional will discuss your results and make recommendations for next steps based on all the information gathered at your consultation.
They may make a medical referral to your Primary Care Physician or an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist (ENT). Or, your hearing care professional may recommend a reevaluation in a few months to a year.
If a hearing loss is revealed, they may recommend you consider hearing aids or other assistive devices. Additional discussion and demonstration of hearing aid options could take place right away or a second appointment might be recommended.
Annual hearing tests should be part of every adult’s health regimen
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.
If you’d like to schedule a hearing test and consultation but are not sure where to find a licensed hearing professional, we can help. Simply type your zip code in here and a you’ll get a list of authorized hearing professionals in your area who you can call and schedule an appointment with.
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