Have you noticed a change in your hearing? Have you identified some of the signs of hearing loss we shared in our previous blog post? If you suspect a change in your hearing, you should schedule an appointment with an audiologist for a hearing exam.
A hearing test can show the type and extent of hearing loss that you are experiencing. In many cases, hearing loss is the result of aging; but in some cases, it can be a symptom of a more severe issue. For example, hearing loss can be a neurological problem.
When you come in for your first appointment, the first step will be to provide a medical and hearing health history. It’s possible for medical conditions and/or medications to have an effect on your hearing, so providing an accurate medical history will be important for your audiologist to make an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
Your audiologist will also want to know how often you expose your ears to loud noise. Attending concerts, hunting, and operating heavy machinery are examples of situations that can be loud enough to damage hearing.
After your audiologist has reviewed your medical history, its time for the hearing exam. Hearing tests are painless and non-invasive. Your audiologist will ask you so sit down in a quiet sound booth and put on headphones or earbuds.
The audiologist will sit outside the sound booth and give you instructions through the headphones. Once you’re ready, they will begin to play sounds through the headphones. They will send a variety of pitches and volumes into your ears. When you hear the sound, you simply raise your hand or push a button to indicate that you’ve heard it.
Depending on the patient, the audiologist may choose to perform additional testing.
The results of the hearing exam are called an audiogram. The audiogram will be a chart showing your hearing at different sound frequencies. There will be one result for your left ear, and a second result for your right ear. The audiologist will explain how to understand the audiogram and what pitches you can and can’t hear. The audiologist may classify your hearing loss as mild, moderate, severe, or profound.
If you would like a copy of your results, your audiologist will be happy to provide one for your personal records. Even if your hearing test results show normal hearing, it can be helpful to have a baseline audiogram in the future. Having a previous audiogram to compare new hearing results to can help to illustrate even minor hearing changes over time.
Depending on your results, the audiologist may recommend treatment for your hearing loss. The most common recommended treatment will be hearing aids. There are several major brands to choose from, and each brand will have multiple technology levels and styles of hearing aids to pick from. The audiologist will help you narrow down the options based on your specific hearing loss and on your personal preferences.
You don’t have to make a decision immediately. In most cases, so long as your audiogram was taken within the last 6 months, it can be used to pursue hearing aids without requiring an additional hearing exam.
Hearing loss typically occurs slowly over time, so it can be difficult to detect changes in day-to-day life. For this reason, it’s recommended to get your hearing tested annually. Even if your first hearing test shows minimal hearing loss and you do not need hearing aids, we would recommend returning after a year. If you choose a different provider, bring a copy of your previous audiogram so they can detect any changes that have occurred over since your last hearing exam.