What to Expect at Your Hearing Test Appointment in Tampa Bay.

Your family members are saying that you are not hearing well, and when you are talking to your grand kids, they appear to be mumbling. You know that someone is talking to you, but they do not sound clear. You heard your wife say, “Olive juice,” but she really said, “I love you!” These are all common experiences for people who have hearing loss, and the next step is scheduling a hearing test. What should you expect for that test?

When you come into any office for the first time, the provider (Audiologist or HIS) should take a detailed health history . This includes questions such as were you exposed to loud noise in your life, and do you have a family history of hearing loss. Audiologists will also ask questions about balance or dizziness. Many people don’t know that your hearing organ is the same organ that also helps you maintain balance and head orientation. As audiologists, we are asking questions that will help us know about your entire ear organ health.

After a detailed history, we begin a visual ear examination. This entails using a light that can look in your ear, called an Otoscope. Audiologists are looking at the health of your ear canal and your ear drum. At times this may be blocked with cerumen. Cerumen is a fancy term for ear wax. If there is a complete blockage, the wax will have to be removed prior to completing the hearing test.

The next step is the hearing test. You will go into a sound treated booth. A common misconception is that this room is soundproof. While it is extremely quiet, it is not soundproof. You will be given headphones, worn over the ears, or insert phones, which are foam pieces placed inside your ear canals. The audiologist will instruct you to raise your hand, press a button, or verbalize when you hear very soft beeps. An audiologist is looking for you to respond to the softest sound that you can hear. When you respond consistently, it is marked on a graph called an Audiogram. This will be repeated for several pitches. You will also be asked to repeat soft words, words at a comfortable level, what you feel is a comfortable level, and what you feel is an uncomfortable level. The last part of booth testing is placing a different type of headphone on. It is a headphone placed behind your ear called a bone conduction headphone or bone vibrator. Yes, you can hear through the bones behind your ears. Because your ear is housed in bone, when your skull vibrates, you hear sound. You will again be asked to respond to soft beeps. If you have hearing loss, the bone conduction headphone helps to determine where that hearing loss comes from. Does the hearing loss originate in the hearing organ or is something blocking the hearing on the way to the hearing organ.

There may be an additional test if the audiologist suspects that there is something blocking the path to the hearing organ called tympanometry. This consists of putting positive and negative pressure in the ear. It feels like you are going up in an airplane for about 5 seconds. Tympanometry lets an audiologist know if there is something going on in your middle ear. If you have ever heard a physician mention fluid in an ear, this is a formal test measuring how much that fluid is affecting the way your ear drum moves.

Your audiologist will explain the results. He or she will help guide you to the next step whether it is protecting normal hearing from adverse effects of noise, seeking treatment for a medically correctable hearing loss or pursuing a trial with hearing aids.

At Gardner Audiology we feel the hearing test should be more than just a step to sell hearing aids. It is an important part of your health records. Call Garnder Audiology a 1-800-277-1182 to schedule a comprehensive hearing exam at 10 locations throughout Tampa Bay. Email info@gardneraudiology.com for more information.

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