Most people wait quite a while from the time that they first notice a hearing problem to when they actually make an appointment to see an audiologist in our office. Facing the idea that you might be experiencing hearing loss can make many people feel like they are getting old or that they are facing a problem that they just don’t know how to fix. When they finally reach out for help, we try to make them as comfortable as possible with what the process of hearing better will entail.
Some of their anxiety comes from not liking to go to medical professionals in general and feeling nervous about that first appointment. We set them at ease by explaining that their appointment will take about an hour and will consist of the following 4 steps.
1. Patient history. Our audiologists will introduce themselves and then get to the most important part– understanding the patient! Using a form we call the “Hearing Health Assessment”, the audiologist will ask questions about your general hearing history. They will also ask about your medical history. As conditions such as diabetes, immune disorders, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and TMJ can affect hearing loss, the audiologist will want to know about any of them, as well as any medications you may be taking. The audiologist will also want to know in what situations you are noticing the hearing difficulty and for how long it has been affecting your life.
2. Ear exam. The audiologist will first use an otoscope to determine if there is any physiological reason why you may be having hearing problems. At this stage, some people discover that their hearing problem is simply caused by a wax build-up! There are other conditions such as infections and ear drum abnormalities which may be factors as well. The audiologist may perform a test called a “tympanogram” to test the function of the ear drum as well.
3. Hearing test. After the ear exam, the audiologist will assist you into the sound proof booth where you will have earphones on your ears and a button to push when you hear a sound. At the end of this test, the audiologist will say some words to you and ask you to repeat them back. The audiologist may also do a test to determine how well you understand speech in noise.
4. Results and Recommendations. Once all of this information has been gathered, the audiologist will sit down with you and go over the results. Using a program called e-Patient, he or she will show you on a large monitor exactly where your hearing is being affected. Using the information that you provided in the history section about your lifestyle and needs, he or she will then make a recommendation for treatment and help you to decide on the appropriate course of action for you.
This process is painless and simple. In fact, our most common comment at the end of the process is, “I should have done this sooner! I’ve been missing out!”
If you are interested in having a consultation with one of our award-winning audiologists, please give us a call at 801-770-0801.