Audiology centers: What happens there?
Updated: Mar 29
It is normal to feel unsure or nervous when visiting an audiology center for the first time. You don’t know what to expect and you might be scared from the result. Many people visit audiologists because their doctors sent them. However, seeing an audiologist is not the same as seeing a doctor. No need to worry as the appointment always has a positive outcome.
What happens at your first hearing test appointment?
The appointment usually starts by asking a set of questions. The audiologist starts by discussing your work, lifestyle and the hearing difficulties you are facing. They will ask about any medication you are taking or any allergy, injury or illness they need to know about. This will help them understand what noises you encounter or hear a lot and what complaints you have or what symptoms you’re feeling. It also helps them to know what medications might have side effects on your hearing or might be harming your ears without you knowing. All of these questions are normal and a must. The audiologist will take notes and update the information throughout on the computer, for offering a better diagnosis and providing the most effective treatment.
In the hearing test, the audiologist performs many tests to check all possible causes of hearing loss such as ear infections, tinnitus-ringing of the ear, or even vertigo- imbalance caused by problems in the inner and middle ear. Then, there are three main tests that the audiologist runs based on his assumptions:
Otoscopy: This is a physical exam where the audiologist checks the ear canal using an “otoscope” and magnifying pen light. They check the buildup of ear wax, any blockage, or problems with the ear canal or ear drum.
Tympanometry: The audiologist checks the middle ear and its response to light pressure. This test helps him detect if there is anything stopping motion of your ear drum. This could be due to any certain fluid or infection.
Pure-tone audiometry: In this test, you sit in soundproof rooms while wearing headphones. You will be asked to listen to and respond to different tones, voices and speech sounds in different situations. You press a button once you hear a sound or raise your hand, and the responses will be recorded on audiograms, which are graphs that show the quietest level you were able to hear.
All of these tests are painless, so no need to worry or panic. After these tests, the audiologist asks about your medical and family history. Based on the result, they can help to indicate if you have a hearing loss problem or not. They usually check wax or fluid build-up, infections or any other abnormality. The test usually takes 45 to one hour. Results are usually instantaneous, and your audiologist will directly share them with you.
Sometimes, the audiologist requests getting a relative, friend or someone close to you because some tests include hearing a familiar voice and testing your hearing accordingly. They can also help you to communicate with your audiologist and jot down all the information the audiologist is saying.
What happens after the diagnosis?
Your audiologist will discuss with you his findings, that is what type of hearing loss you have and why and how you had it. They will explain to you the different degrees of hearing loss, ranging from normal to mild, moderate, severe, reaching to profound. They will then tell you what type you have. If they believe there are other medical issues that need to be ruled out, you might be referred to an ENT, who is an ear, nose and throat doctor.
Some of the results are shocking to some and that is very common. Some people might not even know they have a hearing problem, and some think their situation was worse. The audiologist will provide you with all the available solutions to manage and cope with your hearing loss. The most common one is hearing aids. Your audiologist will explain about them, their usage and function and which one best suits your condition. They will inform you that they are available in different styles, sizes and technologies and they will discuss all their specifications. A follow-up session is usually arranged in this case to order and customize the best hearing aid.
Any medical appointment might be intimidating. If you have an appointment with an audiologist, you now know that it is normal and has nothing to worry about. If you still didn’t schedule an appointment, do that now!