A hearing exam is a simple, painless way to find out if you're experiencing hearing loss. In most cases, the results are instantaneous – you'll discover the type of hearing loss you have and the treatments available to you. Patients are surprised to learn how easy it really is.
What happens during an exam?
Prior to starting your exam, we will ask you question about your general health, lifestyle, and the reasons why you are seeking an evaluation, such as:
- Do you work?
- What activities do you like to do?
- Do you often go to noisy places such as restaurants?
- Do you regularly use a cell phone?
- Is there anything you can't do because of suspected hearing loss?
Next, we will examine your ear canal using an otoscope to look for physical clues about your hearing health. Then you’ll be asked to listen to a series of tones while wearing earphones to evaluate your hearing at different frequency and volume levels. This hearing test determines the softest level at which you can hear different frequencies.
Importance of a 3rd party – identifying hearing loss and bringing loved ones to your hearing exam.
People who have hearing loss are often times not aware of it or not aware of the extent of their problem. The good news is that there are many things you can do to help.
Try to help your loved one recognize their hearing problem by gently discussing the symptoms of hearing loss. Often this will trigger a spark of realization. From there you can begin to fully discuss the topic of hearing loss and next steps.
Once the problem is identified, encourage them to make an appointment for a hearing test. You can help by suggesting a hearing healthcare in the area. Or better yet, offer to go with them to the first appointment.
Adjusting to a Hearing Aid - a process for the wearer and their loved ones
Our sense of hearing is actually a function of our brain's ability to process information; it may take time for your loved one to rediscover sounds.
It's likely they haven't heard certain sounds for some time, so although it is exciting it can also be overwhelming and disturbing. This process will require practice and patience from both of you.
Tips for better communication
By following the suggestions below, you can enhance the way you communicate with someone who has hearing loss and new hearing aids.
- Face the listener and let them know you want to communicate before beginning to speak.
- When speaking to someone with hearing loss, make sure they can clearly see your mouth, especially in noisy environments. Most people have a natural ability to lip read.
- Maintain eye contact.
- Stay close. Position yourself within 4-6 feet of your listener. If the listener can hear better on one side, try to communicate from that side.
Adjusting to your new hearing aid
The time it takes to adjust to your hearing aids generally depends on the severity of your hearing loss and the length of time your brain has been deprived of sound. Some people adjust quickly. Others may need time for their brains to get used to sounds and stimuli they haven’t received in awhile. This can be overwhelming at first, but don’t’ worry – it’s normal. With practice and patience you’ll soon be comfortable hearing the world around you again.
Speeding up your adjustment period
Here are some suggestions to help you through the adjustment period as quickly and easily as possible:
- Talk with someone whose voice you know well. This will help you understand certain words and phrases faster. Remember that communicating is a combination of listening and visual clues. Pay attention to facial expressions and gestures as well as the words.
- As you gain confidence, begin wearing your hearing aids in a wider variety of environments like work or at social occasions. Practice selecting specific sounds and voices; focus your attention on them.
- In public places, sit as close to the speaker as possible. In cafes or restaurants, try to sit with your back to the main source of noise. Also avoid sitting near an open window or on a sidewalk if possible.
- With your new hearing aids on, sit between 6 and 12 feet away from the TV and set the volume to what others consider to be a normal level. Then adjust your distance to the TV so that you can hear comfortably. Follow this same process when listening to a radio or other device.
It's not unusual for the adjustment process to take several weeks as your brain learns to balance and reprioritize sounds. While hearing aids should never hurt, you ears can feel slightly tender as they adjust to the device sitting on or in the ear. If you have any concerns about what you're feeling or the length of time it is taking to adjust, contact your hearing healthcare professional for a follow up visit.