How do I talk to someone about hearing loss? Part 2

Welcome back! Yesterday and the day before we talked about talking to your loved ones about their hearing losses and trying to convince them to get tested to see if they are candidates for amplification. If you missed this post, Read Part 1 Here.

Let’s talk a little bit about what to expect at a hearing test appointment. Some people are apprehensive about it, mainly because they haven’t done it since grade school.

First things first…you will have to do some paperwork and sign some HIPAA stuff…no surprises there, no visit to any healthcare professional’s office is complete without it! Once you get called into the hearing healthcare professional’s office, he or she will want to take a case history for you. They are going to ask you a multitude of questions about both present and past, trying to figure out how much difficulty you are having, how it is impacting your life, and what could have triggered it. The first question out of my mouth is always, “What brings you in today?” because it gives patients the chance to explain what exactly is bothering them and what I need to do about it.

As far as case history, the audiologist will want to know if anyone in your family has had hearing loss, whether or not you’ve worked around noise or had noisy hobbies like shooting or engine work or music, whether you’ve taken any ototoxic drugs (specifically chemotherapy), how long you’ve had hearing loss, whether one ear is better than the other, if you are having any pain or drainage from your ears, etc. They may also ask if you have high blood pressure or are diabetic, and if you currently have any ringing or buzzing (also known as “tinnitus”) in your ears. Try to provide as much information as possible for your hearing healthcare professional; it will make all the difference in the world!

Okay, case history is done…now it’s time for the fun part! The audiologist will first look in your ears with an otoscope. He/she is checking for several things. He is looking for wax that could be occluding the ear canal, and he is checking to make sure the ear and canal look healthy and normal, he is looking to make sure that the ear drum looks healthy and intact, no perforations, holes, or signs of infection or debris. Some providers will also run a tympanogram, which is how we check pressure in the middle ear to make sure it’s doing what it is supposed to do. For this test, the provider will place a probe tip at the entry of your ear canal; you’ll hear a buzzing/tone and feel your ear pressurize (not to the extent that you would feel on an airplane). Both the otoscopic check and the tympanogram are quick and painless!

Now comes the test…the provider will put headphones on you or insert phones in your ear canals, and will ask you to respond to the beeps or tones by raising your hand or pressing a button. Your hearing will be tested one ear at a time, and at these frequencies (250 Hz, 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, 1500 Hz, 2000 Hz, 3000 Hz, 4000 Hz, 6000 Hz, and 8000 Hz) the provider will see how loud a sound has to be before you can detect it. That is called your “threshold” and what we record on the audiogram. Next there will be some speech testing to determine how well you can understand. The provider will ask you to tell him the most comfortable level for listening to his speech, then he will recite some words to you and you will be asked to recite them back. You will do this in both ears at a couple of different levels, and the provider will determine your percentage of understanding.

Lastly, the tester will put a special head band with an oscillator against your skull so that your cochleas can be tested independently, bypassing the middle ear section. Again, you will be asked to respond by raising your hand or touching a button when you hear the tones.

Hearing tests are fairly quick and painless…two great qualities for medical appointments! So, now you know there’s nothing to be afraid of, and you can go get it done and stop putting it off. J And the best part is that you get your results right then and there, no waiting a week or two for them to come back. Call Hearing Revolution to set up an appointment to get your hearing checked today!

 

Until next time,

Dr. Kristin

Mike