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FAQs About Hearing Loss

FAQs About Hearing Loss

If it seems as if things sound a bit muffled or you find you’re always turning up the volume, it may be time for a hearing test. Most people haven’t had a hearing exam in quite a few years – if at all! But don’t worry, hearing tests are painless. The screening appointment takes about an hour at the audiologist’s office.

Do I have to see an audiologist?

Audiologists specialize in evaluating hearing. They work with adults, children and infants. Audiologists have advanced degrees and do much more than hearing tests. They can diagnose and treat auditory nerve function, balance disorders, earwax removal, ringing of the ears, infections and more. Because there are many different causes of hearing loss, it’s best to see an audiologist first, rather than assume that any hearing issues can be self-diagnosed.

When should I be tested?

Hearing tests are routinely given to infants before they leave the hospital and then toddlers have additional exams. Children are tested throughout the school years. It’s around that time most people stop having hearing tests. But as we age, our hearing diminishes. If you’re over 55, it’s a good idea to get a baseline hearing test. Your audiologist can then monitor any changes in hearing.

You also should be tested if you notice a change in your hearing, regardless of age. If your work or recreational activities expose you to loud noises, it’s important to have your hearing tested.

What happens at a hearing test?

A hearing test begins with your medical history and questions about your hearing and any medications you are taking. Your ears will be examined and then three screening tests are performed. The first is a pure-tone test. You are in a soundproof room and wear headphones. You will hear different tones in each ear, higher and lower frequencies and softer and louder sounds. You identify which ear hears the sound.

Next is a speech test. This may be recorded or in person. The tester will softly speak or whisper words and you will repeat them.

A tuning fork test may be performed to determine if there are any conductive or nerve problems. A tuning fork is placed near your ear and tapped to make a tone. You tell the audiologist if the tone seems louder in one ear or the other and when it fades.

When do I get the results?

After the screening tests, the audiologist will meet with you for about a half-hour or so to discuss the results. If a hearing loss is diagnosed, treatment options will be discussed. If you need hearing aids, you can choose them at this time and then begin the fitting process.

You know what to expect at an eye exam or at the dentist. Hopefully, these answers to questions about hearing tests give you a good idea about what happens at an audiologist visit. As we age, it’s important to include regular hearing tests among our health exams.