If your primary care physician suspects that you may be dealing with hearing loss, they will typically refer you to an audiologist. This first appointment with an audiologist is something that many patients are a bit apprehensive about, but there's really no reason to feel this way. To help yourself feel more comfortable and confident, take a look at what typically happens during this first visit.
Patients often assume their hearing issues are independent of other health problems, when in fact, many hearing problems are caused by or related to other underlying medical conditions. As such, you can expect your audiologist to spend some time going through your health history with you. They may ask some clarifying questions. The goal here is to determine whether any other health problems you're experiencing could be related to your potential hearing loss.
Physical Ear Exam
After a chat about your health and medical history, the audiologist will physically examine your ear. This should not hurt; they'll just use a light, and sometimes also a magnifying glass, to look at your ear and inside your ear. This can help key them into any acute issues, like ear wax buildup or an underlying infection, that may be contributing to your hearing loss.
This is a test that measures how your ear drum responds to pressure. From your perspective, all that will happen is the audiologist will insert a tiny device in your ear, and you'll feel some air rush into your ear. This device is measuring your ear drum's resistance to that air. The result can tell your audiologist whether your ear drum is too stiff or too flexible, which gives them a lot of insight into why your hearing may be suffering.
This is a more complex version of the test that your primary care physician probably uses to assess your hearing. Basically, you will wear a set of headphones. Sounds will be played into one ear at a time. You'll tell the audiologist whether you hear those sounds. Audiometry tests your ability not only to hear various volumes but also to hear different pitches at different volumes. The results tell your audiologist how severe your hearing loss is and what pitches you have the most trouble hearing.
All in all, your first visit with an audiologist should be straightforward and pain-free. If they do discover you have hearing loss, you will be referred to a hearing aid specialist for a fitting.
To learn more about audiologists and hearing aids, reach out to a professional.