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What to expect from your first visit to a hearing care professional

It’s easy and painless. There are hair appointments that take more time than this. And at the end of the process, your life can change significantly for the better.

Visiting a hearing care professional may not be the first step you’re taking in your journey to better hearing, but it’s probably the most important. You’ve probably already spent some time on the internet and talked to friends and family about whether you need help with your hearing. But now, you have made a decision to do something about it.

Your visit will be easy, informative, and will give you more insight into your own needs. It is reassuring to learn the facts and meet the experts that can help. By the end of the visit you may ask yourself why you waited so long.

Still, you may be wondering what’s involved in your first appointment at a hearing center, who you’ll be meeting with, and what’s involved if a hearing solution is recommended. 

Here are some highlights of what to expect.

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Meet the Expert

Most people choose their hearing care provider  through a recommendation from someone they trust. Others may have seen an ad that caught their eye or have been impressed by a visit to a practice’s website. Typically, there was something about the practice that inspired your confidence. Whether you schedule your first visit at a private hearing care practice, or a medical clinic with hearing care services, rest assured that your needs will be addressed by a licensed hearing care professional with the qualifications and expertise to evaluate and advise you. Expect to spend some time just talking to allow your hearing care professional to get to know you. It is important that you talk about what you have been experiencing and explore together how hearing issues may be affecting you and your family.

Bring Someone with You

You will find it helpful to bring a spouse, family member or friend to your visit. You will typically get the most out of it if someone close to you can share in the experience.

Measuring your Hearing

During this appointment, your hearing care professional will measure your hearing ability, interpret the results and offer suggestions and recommendations.

Evaluating your hearing abilities starts with precise measurements of how well you hear sounds and speech. Your hearing care professional needs this information to understand your needs and give you the right advice.

Fortunately, these measurements are quick and easy. For best accuracy, the tests are conducted in a sound controlled setting, usually a sound booth or a quiet room. All you have to do is listen and respond.

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Pure tone testing

This reveals how well you hear tones of different pitches or frequencies. You simply listen through earphones to pure tones across the range of sounds that is most important for speech and environmental listening in everyday life. You simply confirm that you have heard each sound either by raising your hand or pressing a response button.

The volume of each sound is then adjusted until the “threshold” -- the softest level you can hear -- is reached. You may also be asked to listen to these same sounds through a small device placed behind your ear. This test can help determine whether sounds are being conducted properly to the inner ear, and helps uncover possible causes of hearing loss.

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The audiogram

Your hearing care professional will carefully mark your thresholds on a table or graph called an audiogram. In the pictured graph, the frequencies or pitches are shown across the bottom from left (low or bass) to right (high or treble). The quietest sounds are shown at the top of the scale while the loudest sounds are at the bottom. The O’s represent the right ear and the X’s the left.

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Speech testing

You may also be asked to repeat familiar words and phrases which become softer and softer until you can no longer hear and understand them. You will also be asked to repeat words spoken at a comfortable loudness level to measure how well you understand speech if the volume is correct for your needs.

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Putting it All Together

The overall results of your consultation will reveal many things: whether you have hearing loss, which ear hears better and how well you hear low and high pitched sounds. The word tests help provide additional information on your ability to clearly understand speech if the volume is sufficient and comfortable. Your hearing care professional may perform additional tests to evaluate other aspects of your hearing function in order to obtain the most complete hearing profile for you.

These results are important in diagnosing the causes of your hearing loss and best course of action. Your hearing care professional will explain your test results to you and recommend what can be done.

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Next Steps

In some cases, a consultation with a medical doctor may be recommended. If hearing devices are indicated, you will learn about which solutions would be best for you, considering your hearing needs, your lifestyle and your budget. Fortunately, there is a wide range of choices and most people can be helped. Learn for yourself! You will be pleasantly surprised to see how today’s choices are extremely discreet, and even invisible. And they are easy to try, often right in the office, or in your own home.

Today, more people are wearing hearing devices and enjoying the benefits of better hearing at a younger age. As other hearing device wearers have reported, you are likely to experience an improved quality of life because you will be able to participate more actively in communication with others.

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