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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