As an audiologist, I spend a lot of time diagnosing hearing problems. Unfortunately, many of the people I see are worried first and foremost that they will be pressured to buy a hearing aid. While I may recommend a hearing aid or another amplification tool, I don’t assume that a person will need a device just because he or she scheduled a hearing test. We take it one step at a time and encourage our patients to do the same.
The advantage of getting your hearing tested at a medical facility is that most audiologists will focus on accurately assessing your hearing. A retail establishment that sells hearing devices may assume you scheduled a hearing test there with the goal of buying a hearing aid.
Your case history
At Swedish, your evaluation will start with a case history of your hearing. Your audiologist will ask about:
- Any hearing challenges you have
- Ear symptoms
- A family history of hearing loss
- Your exposure to noise
This is a great opportunity to talk about your hearing goals and any concerns you may have, particularly if you have reservations about using a hearing aid.
During your hearing test, you will wear headphones that emit a series of soft tones. Your audiologist will ask you to respond to the tones to determine the softest sound you can hear for a wide range of frequencies. You also will be tested to see how well you understand the speech of others.
Based on your history and symptoms, your eardrum and middle ear may be assessed with an immittance test. This exam is used to pinpoint what part of the ear may be involved in any hearing loss.
With results in hand, your audiologist will discuss the type and degree of any hearing loss, and sounds and situations that may be challenging for you.
From there, an audiologist may:
- Refer you to an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat specialist)
- Recommend communication strategies to compensate for hearing loss
- Suggest a hearing aid
Is a hearing aid right for you?
If a hearing aid is the best solution for you, your audiologist will go over your options. The most important variable in hearing better with an aid is a person’s willingness to accept the hearing aid - even embrace it - as a part of his or her life.
If you choose a hearing aid, there will be a transition period at first as the brain adapts to new sounds transmitted by the device. Wearing the hearing aid full time will speed this process. And if for some reason you decide the hearing aid doesn’t suit you, Washington state ensures a 30-day trial period for the devices.
If you have concerns about your hearing, learn more about our audiology services, or call 206-215-1770 to make an appointment for an evaluation at our First Hill, Ballard or Issaquah office.