When it comes to your hearing health, an audiologist can often be your biggest advocate and source of support. With expertise in all things hearing, an audiologist can identify solutions and strategies that help you continue enjoying your everyday activities, even if your hearing changes over time. In most cases, people do not seek out an audiologist until they notice (or people around them notice) that they are having difficulty hearing. As you look to build a relationship with your audiologist, here are five questions you should start with:
“Your audiologist can be your biggest advocate and source of support as your hearing changes over time.”
1. What does a typical examination involve?
According to the Academy of Doctors of Audiology, most patients enter an audiologist appointment with questions about what to expect from the examination. Typically, exams are broken up into three parts. The first is the patient’s history, including any factors – medications, past surgeries, hereditary conditions, etc. – that may affect hearing. From there, the doctor inspects the ear drum and outer ear, looking for signs of infection or trauma. Finally, the exam ends with tests for audiological function, including tone thresholds and tympanometry, which assesses the functionality of the middle ear.
2. What are my current hearing abilities?
You probably already have a good idea of what you can or can’t hear based on your daily experiences. An audiologist, however, can offer more details regarding the full context of your hearing abilities. For instance, he or she can may be able to explain any hearing changes you are going through and what the source is behind any hearing loss you may be experiencing. Many patients also want to get an idea of how their hearing abilities may progress over time and what to expect if they are having difficulty hearing today. Establishing these boundaries is often the first step to developing the best treatment plan for each individual.
3. Can I do anything to prevent further hearing loss?
Some people automatically assume that once your hearing begins to diminish, there is little you can do to prevent further damage. However, as the Academy of Doctors of Audiology points out, there are steps that individuals can follow to help prevent further hearing loss or damage. One effective method recommended is to follow the H.E.A.R strategy:
- “Hold yourself accountable”: People are responsible for continually educating themselves.
- “Evaluate your surroundings”: It’s important that people understand where they can hear best and where there are issues.
- “Avoid the noise”: If there’s an area in your life that’s too noisy, avoid that place whenever possible.
- “Remember protection”: For those times you can’t avoid excessive noise, earplugs and other protective measures can be a saving grace.
Your audiologist will be able to advise specific techniques to address each of the strategy’s four components that makes the most sense for your individual lifestyle.
“Family plays a vital role in managing a person’s hearing loss.”
4. What assistance can my family offer?
When it comes to dealing with hearing loss, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasize that the entire family plays a vital role in both managing the condition and supporting the person effected – for both children and adults. In particular, family members can assist as you evaluate different options to address your hearing loss – including considering hearing aids or installing simple assistive devices around your home. By understanding your communication needs, family members are well suited to ensure that you participate fully in conversations and activities as you always have.
5. What are my options for hearing assistance?
No two people have the same level of hearing loss. Some people may need a hearing device, and as Gallaudet University explains, there are a wide variety available to fit very specific needs. For instance, some people might use conference microphones to help them hear in larger rooms. Others, meanwhile, may rely on captioned telephones, which offer easy-to-read text during phone calls for work or with loved ones. Your audiologist will be best suited to understand your unique hearing needs and suggest possible solutions.