Have your friends or family members mentioned to you that you may have hearing loss? Chances are, you were able to brush them off for a while, giving out excuse after excuse, until now. Regardless of the reason you have finally decided that now is the time to seek help (either you have realized that there may be something to their comments or you want to silence them once and for all by proving your hearing is fine), your Boone audiologist is happy to have you.
In order to prepare you for your first visit to our office, your Boone audiologist has put together this handy cheat sheet of what will happen. Knowledge is power. Being well informed of what will happen when you arrive for your visit will make the process smoother and less riddled with anxiety.
Much like any other medical appointment, the front desk will hand you a few different forms to fill out when you arrive. You will be asked to provide information on your medical history, medications you are taking, ailments that may be bothering you, any hearing concerns you may have and your insurance information.
Fortunately, the information needed for a first-time visit is only needed once. Your follow-up visits will require much less paperwork.
A visit to a doctor will not be complete without a physical exam. Your Boone audiologist will examine your ears inside and out. They are looking for any signs of abnormalities or medical conditions that could be contributing to your hearing loss. They are also on the lookout for a buildup of earwax, which is a common cause of temporary hearing loss.
Now comes the inevitable – the hearing tests. There are seven common tests that your doctor may decide to perform. All are safe and painless. The information from the tests is used to determine the best treatment for you.
Pure Tone Testing
This type of test, also known as pure tone audiometry, uses air conduction to measure your ability to hear sounds at various pitches and volumes. You will be asked to wear headphones and sit in a specially designed booth. A series of sounds will be broadcast through the headphones. Every time you hear a tone you will be instructed to raise your hand or press a button. The results will then be charted on an audiogram.
Bone Conduction Testing
This is another type of pure-tone test that measures your inner ear’s response to sound. A conductor will be placed behind your ear; it will send tiny vibrations through the bone directly to the inner ear. If the results of this test are different than the pure-tone audiometry, your Boone audiologist can use this information to determine your type of hearing loss.
This type of testing is used to measure your speech reception threshold (SRT), or the faintest speech you can understand 50 percent of the time. It is administered in either a quiet or noisy environment and measures your ability to separate speech from background noise.
This test measures the movement of your eardrum in response to air pressure. It can determine if there is a buildup of fluid or wax and determine whether you have an eardrum perforation or a tumor.
Acoustic Reflex Testing
This test measures involuntary muscle contractions of the middle ear and is used to determine the location of your hearing problem (the ossicles, cochlea, auditory nerve, etc.), as well as the type of hearing loss.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
This type of testing is used to determine whether a specific type of hearing loss—sensorineural—exists. It is also frequently used to screen newborns for hearing problems. In an ABR test, electrodes are attached to your head, scalp or earlobes, and you are given headphones to wear. Your brainwave activity is measured in response to sounds of varying intensities.
Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs)
OAEs are sounds generated by the vibrations of the hair cells in the cochlea of your inner ear. This type of testing uses a tiny probe fitted with a microphone and speaker to stimulate the cochlea and measure its response. Individuals with normal hearing will produce emissions; when hearing loss exceeds 25-30 decibels, no sound will be produced. This test helps determine whether there is a blockage in the ear canal, excess fluid in the middle ear or damage to the hair cells of the cochlea. OAE testing is often included in newborn hearing screening programs.
Any combination of these tests may be ordered by your audiologist. Once they are complete, your Green Valley audiologist will be able to create an individualized treatment plan.
Once the results from your tests are in, you and your Boone audiologist will talk about your treatment options. For most, the recommended treatment will be a hearing aid.
Keep in mind, this conversation is a no-pressure chat. Your audiologist will give you all the facts, including the benefits that come from choosing to treat your hearing loss with the use of a hearing aid. They are also more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
If your hearing tests reveal that your hearing loss is mild (or fingers crossed, non-existent), then your audiologist will recommend setting up an annual hearing test to keep on top of your hearing health. By checking your hearing once a year they will be able to catch your hearing loss early, and as with any medical condition the best results come from early intervention.
Doesn’t sound so scary once it is broken down, does it? Contact your Boone audiologist today to get started.