Scheduling a hearing consultation is a major step towards prioritizing your hearing health. Acknowledging changes to your hearing can be difficult so congratulations on seeking treatment! Knowing what you can expect and thinking about questions to ask can be a useful way to best prepare for your appointment.
A hearing consultation typically involves the following three components:
- Intake: like most medical appointments, hearing consultations start by collecting general intake information. This includes your medical history, lifestyle factors (job, hobbies, exercise, etc.), in addition to specific symptoms you have been experiencing, hearing health concerns, etc.
- Physical Exam: your audiologist will inspect your outer ear and ear canal with an otoscope, a small instrument inserted into the ear. This allows the audiologist to check for anything that can impact hearing health including injuries or earwax (which will be removed if necessary).
- Hearing Test: lastly, your hearing ability in both ears will be measured. This involves a noninvasive and painless process – wearing headphones in a quiet room and being guided through speech and sounds played at various volumes and pitches. You will indicate what you hear, this information is tracked on a chart that is presented to you after when the audiologist reviews your results and discusses the next steps!
Consultations are the best time to ask all the questions you may have about hearing loss, needs, treatment options, etc. Audiologists are trained experts in hearing healthcare who are there to provide you with helpful information so be sure to maximize the time during your appointment by asking away!
What type of hearing loss do I have?
There are actually different types of hearing loss and the type of hearing loss you have will inform the treatment that will be the most effective. The main types of hearing loss are:
- Sensorineural: the most common type of hearing loss that is caused by damage to the hair cells in the inner ear. This prevents their ability to help the brain translate soundwaves and understand incoming sound information. Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by existing medical conditions, aging, environmental exposure to loud noise, and genetic history.
- Conductive: less common, conductive hearing loss is caused by injury or obstruction in the outer or middle ear. This can be caused by a buildup of earwax, ear infections, fluid, injury caused by foreign objects, etc. This type of hearing loss can often be cured through surgery or other medical treatments.
Sensorineural hearing loss impacts people differently so some further questions to think about are: is the hearing loss the same in both ears, what are the specific types of sounds that are more difficult for you to hear, what is the degree of impairment?
What can I expect from hearing aids?
Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. There is a range of styles and features that are important to know about. You should be informed about hearing aid types (in the ear, behind the ear, in the ear canal, etc.) and which is best aligned with your specific hearing loss.
Additionally, there are various features and technologies you can discuss with the audiologist during the appointment. Similar to most electronics, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation over the years. Features to discuss and learn about include:
- Bluetooth connectivity: uses wireless technology to connect to other devices and stream audio directly to hearing aids.
- Noise cancellation: reduces background noise, enhancing sound quality
- Voice recognition: learns the user’s voice isolates it from other types of sounds so that one’s own voice is clear and not distorted.
The type of hearing aids that will be best suited for you will depend on the type and degree of hearing loss you have, your lifestyle (work, social life, activities, etc.), and preferences. So it is important to fully discuss these important factors!
If you are ready to take the first step towards better hearing, contact us today to schedule an appointment!