4 Questions to Ask the Audiologist
Have an appointment with the audiologist for a hearing evaluation? If the audiological exam determines you have hearing loss, make sure you discuss these items with the audiologist.
1. What type and level of hearing loss do I have?
If the audiologist discovers hearing loss, ask what type of hearing loss you have and your current ability to hear. Hearing loss falls into three broad categories:
- Sensorineural: Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the hair cells on the cochlea are damaged or the auditory nerve is damaged. The damage can be due to exposure to loud noise or the normal results of aging. The damage prevents the transmission of sound impulses to the brain. This type of hearing loss is almost always permanent.
- Conductive: Conductive hearing loss happens when a problem in the outer or middle ear keeps sounds from being sent to the inner ear. It can be something as simple as a build-up of compact or hardened earwax or fluid build-up from an infected ear. More serious causes can be a punctured eardrum or abnormal bone growth in the ear. Many times, conductive hearing loss can be corrected by treating the blockage.
- Mixed: When both sensorineural and conductive causes are present, you have mixed hearing loss. For example, a person with damaged hair cells may experience an inner ear infection that results in further hearing loss. In this instance, the conductive hearing loss may clear when the infection is treated successfully.
While you probably have a good idea of what you can hear, the audiologist can fill in the details on what you can’t hear. They can help you with strategies to make the most of the hearing you have. You can also find out if you can expect your hearing level to stay the same or deteriorate.
2. How can I protect against hearing loss?
If you discover you have hearing loss, it is important to protect the hearing you still have. Ask the audiologist what you can do to protect the hearing you have. They can recommend practices and products to help you protect your existing hearing.
3. Will wearing hearing aids help?
If you have hearing loss, wearing hearing aids may help you make the most of the hearing you still have. Hearing aids capture sounds, amplify them and then transmit them to the inner ear for processing. Hearing aids won’t restore your hearing, but they can help you better hear the world around you.
If you have bi-lateral hearing loss, ask about the pros and cons of wearing one hearing aid versus two hearing aids. You may be surprised to find out how important it is to hear from both ears.
4. What type of hearing aid is best for me?
Be sure to talk to the audiologist about your lifestyle and any physical limitations that may impact your choice in hearing aids. For example, the ultra-small and discreet in-the-canal hearing aid is almost invisible. However, if you have dexterity issues or stiffness in your hands, it probably isn’t the best choice for you.
The Audiologist is Your Partner
Don’t forget, the audiologist is the medical professional that is your hearing advocate and partner. They have the skills, knowledge and training to help you get the most out of your hearing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The audiologist is more than happy to help.