Huh? What did you say? Can you repeat that? Do you hear that ringing/buzzing? These noises in my ear are driving me crazy! – If any of these phrases have become part of your daily life, or if a loved one has told you that you just can't seem to hear them anymore...it is time to have your hearing evaluated. Admitting that you may have a problem hearing can be terrifying or overwhelming. You may be tempted to delay scheduling an evaluation because you are scared of what will happen during the appointment or because you are nervous of the outcome. You may even have a negative connotation of hearing loss or hearing aids. However, it is important to remember that a hearing evaluation is just as important as routine eye exams, routine dental exams, or routine physicals. Hearing loss can have detrimental effects on your personal relationships and quality of life and treatment is most successful when addressed in the early stages.
Your first hearing evaluation will be much less overwhelming if you know what to expect during your visit.
So, what exactly happens when you schedule an appointment with Johnson Audiology? What happens during the evaluation? What can you expect after you know your results? Listed below is information that will help to prepare you for what to expect during that first visit.
Scheduling an appointment
When you call Johnson Audiology to schedule your initial evaluation appointment, a friendly Patient Care Coordinator (PCC) will answer the phone. The PCC will obtain all necessary information from you in order to schedule your appointment. An appointment date and time is provided to you during this call. Any questions you may have, such as directions or length of appointment, can be answered by the PCC prior to the call's completion.
Prior to your appointment
After your appointment is scheduled, an envelope containing new patient paperwork will be mailed to the address you provided to the PCC. You will need to fill out all applicable paperwork to the best of your ability prior to your appointment. Filling out the paperwork before you arrive will ensure that your appointment runs smoothly and will maximize your scheduled time with the Audiologist. Information provided on your paperwork will assist with your hearing evaluation as well as subsequent recommendations and referrals. Between scheduling an appointment and coming in for your evaluation, your insurance benefits will be checked to determine if you have any hearing aid coverage available.
Today's the day - It's time for your appointment!!
Make sure that you bring all completed paperwork with you, along with your insurance card and ID. It is best to arrive a few minutes before your scheduled appointment so that the check-in process can be completed by the PCC. Once you have been checked in, the Audiologist will call you back to the evaluation room and you will be asked to sit in a sound-treated booth. The Audiologist will review the provided history information and will ask any follow-up questions necessary. Then, the diagnostic evaluation will begin.
First, the Audiologist will look in your ears with an otoscope (otoscopic evaluation). The purpose of this evaluation is to determine if your ears have significant wax or if there are any medical concerns present such as fluid. If your ears have too much wax, this will need to be removed prior to your exam, as it can potentially cause your hearing to be worse than normal. Wax is removed using a curette, suction, and/or water irrigation. The removal method used will be based on your history and the type/amount of wax present.
If you report any potential medical issues – fluid, pain, fullness – the audiologist may run a quick test called tympanometry. This test determines how well your eardrum moves in response to pressure and helps to rule out structural problems such as fluid or concerns of an ear infection. This test lasts only a few seconds, does not hurt, and feels a lot like being in an airplane or going up a mountain!
Next, the longest portion of the diagnostic evaluation will be completed. The Audiologist will give you test instructions, will put earphones in your ears or headphones over your ears, and will provide you with a response button. The Audiologist will close the door to the sound treated booth and will sit on the other side of a window; the Audiologist will be able to see/hear you and will be able to communicate with you the entire time you are in the booth. Once the evaluation begins, soft two-syllable words will be presented to each ear. You will repeat back each of these words to the Audiologist. There will also be loud but comfortable one-syllable words presented to each ear that you will repeat back to the Audiologist. These tests determine how softly you can detect and repeat speech as well as how well you understand speech presented at an audible level. In addition to repeating words, you will also be asked to listen to a series of soft beeps and press your response button each time you hear them. This portion of the test determines the softest level at which you can detect sounds at each of the different frequencies/pitches important for hearing and understanding speech. This information is used to determine your degree and configuration of hearing loss and is crucial for properly programming hearing aids. Finally, the audiologist will place a bone oscillator behind your ear via a tight headband. You will again hear a series of beeps and be asked to press the response button each time they are barely audible. This portion of the test allows the Audiologist to determine if a medical referral is indicated.
If you have tinnitus (ringing/buzzing in the ears/head), a tinnitus evaluation may also be completed. This evaluation allows the Audiologist to determine the type, pitch, and intensity of your specific tinnitus. You will also identify the level of noise that is just slightly louder than your tinnitus. This information is used for counseling as well as for programming hearing aids.
Once all testing is completed, your Audiologist will sit down and thoroughly explain the results as well as any referrals and/or recommendations. If a hearing loss is identified and hearing aids are recommended, your individual lifestyle demands and the specific communication problems you have been experiencing will be discussed. After this has been reviewed in depth, an appropriate level of technology will be recommended and pricing will be discussed. You will have time to ask any questions about the evaluation as well as any questions regarding referrals/recommendations or hearing aids. When the right fit for you has been determined, any measurements or impressions needed for the hearing aids will be completed. At this point, your hearing aids can be ordered. Once your hearing aids have been received in our clinic, you will be scheduled for a hearing aid fitting and orientation appointment. This appointment will typically occur 1 to 2 weeks after your initial evaluation. This fitting/orientation appointment is where you will learn all about your new hearing aids!
Taking the first step to better hearing can be overwhelming, but the staff at Johnson Audiology is here to help from the very beginning. We strive to help you enjoy the world around you – one sound at a time.
The purpose of this evaluation is to determine if your ears have significant wax or if there are any medical concerns present such as fluid. If your ears have too much wax, this will need to be removed prior to your exam, as it can potentially cause your hearing to be worse than normal.
For more information about Johnson Audiology and their services or to schedule a consultation or appointment, call 423-710-1432 or visit johnsonaudiology.com.