Going to the audiologist and getting a hearing test for the first time may be nerve-racking, and perhaps you don’t know what to expect. Here are a few tips for those of you about to take your first trip to the audiologist.

What to tell your audiologist

There are many causes of hearing loss, whether it’s mild or profound. Make sure your audiologist ensures that your hearing loss isn’t just a temporary inconvenience, or indicative of something else.

– Your audiologist should perform an otoscopic examination. By looking in your ear canal with an otoscope (that hammer-like tool with a light on the end), an audiologist can determine if an obstruction, such as a foreign object or cerumen (ear wax), is contributing to your hearing loss.

– Were you one of those kids who always seemed to have an ear infection? If so, it makes sense that you’re experiencing symptoms of hearing loss. Those who are prone to ear infections often have excess fluid around their eardrums. By performing a test of your middle ear function (a tympanogram), your audiologist can discern whether or not there’s fluid around your eardrum and make sure that it’s vibrating at the right rate.

– Make sure your audiologist knows if your hearing loss is accompanied by problems with balance or vision. This could be symptomatic of a different condition and might require the doctor’s attention.

– Do you have that pesky, persistent ringing in your ears? It’s known as tinnitus, it has a variety of causes and it may lead to hearing loss.

What to expect at the audiologist

– An audiological evaluation is a multi-step process. After your audiologist has conducted both an otoscopic examination and a tympanogram, there are several other tests he or she might perform.  When the test is finished, your audiologist will document the results on a chart called an audiogram, which will diagnose your hearing as normal, or show that you’re experiencing mild, moderate, severe or profound hearing loss.

– During a pure tone threshold test, you are placed in a room and asked to listen to beats of different frequencies. The purpose of this test is to indicate your threshold—the absolute lowest volume at which you can hear the various sounds. It’s important to remember that children and adults have different thresholds and therefore should have different results.

– To many of us, speech is arguably the most important sound. To determine your threshold for understanding speech, your audiologist might want to test your speech detection threshold. In order to do so, you are asked to repeat words back to your audiologist through a microphone at varying intensities and volumes.

– It’s important to know that the hearing test can take a long time. While sitting in a sound-proof booth struggling to hear a slew of sounds can be frustrating, if you stick it out, your results will be accurate.

– If you experience any painful symptoms during the hearing test, be sure to tell your audiologist. It might be tedious, but the test should not be painful or invasive.

by Leah Sininsky

13 responses to “What to Expect at the Audiologist

  1. Why do I need someone to accompany me at my initial audiologist appt

  2. I’m worried about my hearing and am thinking about getting a hearing test. I had no idea that ear infections when you are little could often result in hearing loss due to a build up of fluids. It would also be smart to get an audiologist that accepts your insurance. That way you don’t have to spend as much money out of pocket.

  3. My friend is experiencing hearing and ear problems and is looking into visiting an audiologist. It is good to know that speech detection threshold might need to be tested. Another thing to consider would be to find specialist who is local and not too far away from where my friend lives. http://www.murrayhearing.com/

  4. Leah, this was a really educational post that taught me a lot about what can be expected when visiting an audiologist. I think it’s usually a good idea to know what to expect when it concerns health. I would assume that it allows you the opportunity to develop further questions that will help you understand what’s happening. http://www.hearingcenterofhawaii.com/audiologist

  5. I definitely agree, being open with your audiologist about your hearing history really is the only way to make sure you’re getting the treatments you need to help with your hearing loss. I remember way back in the day when I was in high school, may family and I learned that I was losing the hearing in my right ear. Luckily, they were able to confirm with the audiologist that I had a lot of ear infections as a child and as a result, my eardrum had deteriorated pretty bad. Fortunately they were able to replace it, but it was much better to tell them about my past then just letting them think that my ear had lost it’s ability to hear.

  6. My zip is 86314.What would be local clinic?

    1. Hi Paul,

      We just emailed you a list of local places in your area that you can get tested. Once you have a copy of your hearing test results, you can send them to us to review and provide a recommendation.

      You can email the hearing test results to [email protected] or fax them to 888-498-5366.

      Have a great day!

  7. Thanks for sharing some of these things to expect at the audiologist. My mom has been having problems with her hearing lately, so we’ll probably take her in to see an audiologist. I had no idea that audiologists typically inspect speech comprehension. How do they do that?

  8. Probably the hardest thing to do when you go to an audiologist is describing the symptoms. Thankfully, audiologist like other doctors are pretty good at understanding certain symptoms, checking the patient’s problem area, and diagnosing. Great article and thank you for this article.

  9. I have been experiencing some hearing loss lately and I need to go to an audiologist. I have never been before, so this was a nice read to prepare me for that visit. I am just hoping that the pure tone threshold test doesn’t hurt my ears. http://metrohearing.com/hearing-aid-sun-city-west/

  10. My grandfather’s hearing has been deteriorating over the past few years. Finally, a few of us had to have our own little intervention to convince him to get his hearing tested. Now that he has a pretty high-tech hearing aid he is able to hear what we are saying to him. It has made interacting with him so much easier.

  11. 1) Audiologists do not always conduct tympanograms. Isn’t always necessary.
    2) Soundbooths are not always necessary, lots of research shows it isn’t that helpful, hence a client won’t always be “placed in a room.”
    3) Don’t use only the term “Audiologist.” There are plenty of very good hearing instrument specialists.

    1. Jamie, 1. audiologists should most definitely conduct tympanograms, as they measure normal ear drum function. If the ear drum isn’t functioning, that would be helpful for the audiologist to know when making a diagnosis. 2. Soundbooths are always necessary in producing reliable results. Background noise that can occur when not in the noise-cancelling sound booth, will hinder the patient’s ability to perform their best during testing. 3. Sure, there are plenty of wonderful, and certified hearing instrument specialists. However, audiologists are a type of doctor, they attended school just as any other doctor, and should be referred to by their respected title.

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