Booking your first appointment or yearly check-up for a hearing test can feel overwhelming at times; not knowing what to expect or do. To be honest there is nothing to be afraid of because your hearing health professional will walk you through every step along the way and if you happen to have any questions just ask they are more than willing to answer any question or concern you may have. But let’s go over what you can expect during your hearing test appointment.
Personal information form. You will need to fill out a personal information form about your medical history, family history and your hearing health concerns. This will help your hearing health professional understand why you have booked the appointment and what your concerns are about your hearing health.
Initial consult. You will then meet with your hearing health professional and you will both go over your personal information form. Your hearing health professional will ask questions about the information on the form and welcome you to ask any questions about the hearing test process or their credentials at this time. Make sure to be as open and honest as possible as this will greatly help your hearing health professional and you in the long run.
Hearing tests. Your hearing health professional will take you to the sound booth. The sound booth is where the majority of your hearing tests will be performed. They will go over with you what each test is and how it is performed and what is expected of you. If you have any questions or concerns about the tests or the sound booth be sure to let your hearing health professional know. You will have three tests performed in the sound booth: the air conduction or pure-tone test, the bone conduction test and speech testing. There may be variation to these tests but your hearing health professional will go over any changes they need to do during the testing with you and will explain why the variation is needed.
The results. Once all of the tests have been performed and recorded your hearing health professional will go over the results with you. They will advise on your hearing loss, if there is one present, and will make recommendations as to how you should proceed with your hearing loss such as purchasing hearing aids.
This is the general make-up of a hearing test appointment. Of course if hearing aids are recommended to be purchased at this time your hearing health professional will go over what type of hearing aid would best suit you, your lifestyle and your hearing loss, and a decision can be made from there.
Be sure to be very open and honest during your appointment. Not doing so will only harm your hearing health. If you have any questions or concerns during, prior or after your appointment, be sure to ask your hearing health professional; they are a wealth of information and want to help you to understand and be more comfortable with the process.
DIAGNOSING HEARING LOSS
Audiologists are doctors capable of diagnosing hearing loss. In order to diagnose hearing loss, a hearing healthcare professional will perform a series of tests. One such test is a pure-tone test. This type of test determines the range of pitches an individual can hear. It will pinpoint the faintest tones a person can hear at multiple pitches, or frequencies.
The test is not painful and shouldn’t cause anxiety for the patient. During the test, an individual will wear headphones. A sound will be played in the headphones; if the patient hears the sound, he or she raises her hand, presses a button or says yes. Each ear will be tested individually in order to get the most accurate results.
Often times, young children have difficulty keeping headphones on their head. In such cases, sounds will be presented through speakers inside of a sound booth. This type of testing is known as sound-field screening. Because sound-field screening does not provide ear-specific information, audiologists will typically also perform additional testing to ensure potential unilateral hearing loss isn’t missed.
UNDERSTANDING YOUR AUDIOGRAM
The results are laid out in an audiogram. In an audiogram each vertical line represents pitch or frequency in Hz. The left side of the graph mirrors the lowest pitches, while the highest pitches are shown on the right side of the graph. The audiogram frequency ranges from 125 Hz to 8000 Hz. Examples of low-pitched sounds include a bass drum or tuba while types of high pitched sounds include birds chirping or the chime of a metal triangle.
The horizontal lines on the audiogram represent loudness or intensity. The top of the chart represents soft sounds — a ticking clock, whisper or rustling leaves — while the lines at the bottom of the chart indicate very loud sounds. Examples of loud sounds with higher dB measures are a lawnmower, car horn and concert.
YOUR DEGREE OF HEARING LOSS
The audiogram will show the pattern of hearing loss, also called the configuration, as well as the degree of hearing loss. For example, you may experience normal hearing in low pitches, enabling you to hear everyday conversation, but have hearing loss at higher pitches, causing you to miss the chirp of the morning birds.
Upon reading the audiogram, your hearing healthcare professional will be able to determine the corrective devices you will most benefit from.