It’s one of the most common conditions in older adults – age related hearing loss. It can be tough to admit that you’re not hearing as well as you used to! But when your family and friends tell you you’re always asking them to repeat themselves or they say the TV is too loud, it may be time for a hearing test. Here are five frequently asked questions about hearing tests.

What tests are given?

Your audiologist evaluates your hearing with several exams. The first is a pure tone test, which you may have had when you were younger. You’re seated in a soundproof room and put on a set of headphones. As you hear sounds of different volumes and pitches, you identify in which ear you hear those tones. The next test is a speech test. This time you repeat back the words you hear. This test identifies if you’re having problems with certain sounds, commonly “s” or “th”. Test results are charted on an audiogram, which identifies where your hearing loss occurs.

Does the testing take a long time?

You will want to set aside about an hour for this appointment. The tests may take about a half-hour or so and then your audiologist will show you the audiogram and discuss the results. The audiologist may show you several styles of hearing aids that will work to help with your hearing loss.

What should I take with me to the appointment?

You will want to bring along your health records and a list of any medications you take. In addition to the hearing tests, your audiologist will perform a physical examination of your ears, checking for any problems. It’s also a good idea to prepare a list of the times and places you’ve had trouble hearing as well as any questions you may want to ask.

Why should I see an audiologist?

Most routine annual physical exams do not involve hearing tests, so your primary health care provider is unlikely to have the necessary equipment. Because audiologists are medical professionals and hold a doctor of audiology (Au.D), they can provide testing, diagnosis, treatment and counseling. Beware of testing centers that are only there to sell hearing aids or amplifiers.

Is all hearing loss permanent?

There are three types of hearing loss: conductive, sensorineural or mixed. Conductive hearing loss may be due to a blockage or infection preventing sound from travelling to the inner ear. This type of hearing loss usually is not permanent. Sensorineural loss involves nerve damage and is permanent. Mixed is a combination of conductive and sensorineural loss.

Hopefully these five frequently asked questions about hearing tests have given you a sense of what happens during the exams. Some people allow anxiety to get the best of them and put off making an appointment for hearing tests. Identifying your hearing loss early is a good thing! Just as your eyeglasses improve your vision, hearing aids do the same for your hearing.