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Q&A: What To Expect At A Hearing Evaluation
Q: What can I expect at my complete hearing evaluation?
A: Many people think a hearing evaluation is where your provider plays a tone, and you simply indicate whether you can hear it. Fortunately, a hearing evaluation is more thorough than that and happens in four steps.
A typical hearing evaluation lasts from 30 to 90 minutes, and we encourage you to bring a trusted loved one with you. We find that a complementary perspective can help paint a complete picture of how your hearing loss is affecting you and your family. They can also take notes for you to refer back to later.
During this step, we review and discuss your medical history. You describe what sort of hearing problems you experience in common situations and how the hearing issues affect you and your loved ones. But we’ll go beyond that, because the better I know you, the better I can custom-tailor a solution to your unique hearing loss. We discuss your workplace, your hobbies and activities, and your family life. We do this so I can understand what might be causing your hearing loss as well as what things are key to your hearing lifestyle now and moving forward.
Did you know sometimes resolving hearing loss is as simple as a good ear cleaning? That’s why the first thing that happens after our conversation is an ear inspection with something called an otoscope. This allows me to see if earwax, fluid, or debris is blocking your ear canal and whether a part of your ear is damaged.
The Diagnostic Evaluation
This comprehensive evaluation comprises tests to determine the degree and type of your hearing loss as well as the conditions of your outer and middle ear. Which tests are performed depends on your age, symptoms, and medical history. Everyone, however, receives the first three tests.
- Pure-tone air-conduction test This test is what people think of as a hearing screening or test. You put on headphones, listen for beeps or tones, and indicate which sounds you can hear. With this test, I can determine the quietest sound you can hear at different pitches.
- Bone-conduction test A different kind of headphone is used for this test. It tells me from where your hearing loss most likely originates and, therefore, what kind it is.
- Speech test You will hear words via headphones and you’ll repeat them. This measures how well you hear and understand words at different volumes.
- Tympanometry Placing a probe at the end of your ear canal, I will painlessly use air-pressure changes to see if your eardrum moves correctly, doesn’t move enough, or has a hole in it.
- Otoacoustic emissions test Using a different kind of probe, I will send a sound into your ear canal. Based on how your inner ear responds, I can learn information about the very tiny sound-receptor cells in your inner ear.
Treatment options are based on all of the preceding steps. Because no two hearing losses are the same, no two solutions are, either. Reviewing the results We’ll review the results of your examination and diagnostic tests to determine whether you have hearing loss, what type, and what your options are moving forward. For example, you might require further evaluation from an ear specialist if the physical examination reveals damage to your ear. Technology options If we decide technology is your best option, we’ll determine together what style and level of technology will best support your hearing goals. For example, some people require technology that filters out lots of background noise, whereas others don’t. Some people have ear canals that will accommodate completely-in-the-canal technology; others don’t.
An Active Participant
This process is all about your unique hearing needs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, request that I repeat something, or be candid. This evaluation is the beginning of a relationship, not a transaction. Your active participation will lead to the most satisfying outcome for your hearing health. Contact us if you’d like to know more about the process or to schedule an evaluation!