Cochlear Implant Assessment
Wherever you are on the hearing journey, talking with a hearing specialist such as an audiologist is the best thing you can do for yourself. Preparation is key and will help you get the most from the meeting, so you leave feeling confident and reassured.
If you need to confirm a hearing loss, you can empower yourself by knowing what to expect at your first appointment with an audiologist. If you wish to discuss different treatment options for your hearing loss, you should know also what to expect from your hearing evaluation. In both cases you should think about how to explain how things sound to you, what your hearing priorities are, and the questions you need to ask before visiting an audiologist
You may also want to ask a friend or family member to accompany you to your appointment. As well as providing emotional support, they can help you communicate with the audiologist and ensure you get all the information you need. Having a loved one present will also make it easier to discuss your treatment options with them afterwards.
1. Creating your case history
Your audiologist will ask you about your medical history, recent hearing loss symptoms and general physical health to build a detailed case history. Questions may relate to your current use of hearing devices, noise exposure and medical issues such as tinnitus, dizziness and any past ear surgeries. Your audiologist will also talk to you about your lifestyle and the specific situations in which you have trouble hearing, to better understand how hearing loss may be affecting you. A case history gives your audiologist a general picture of your hearing concerns before they hone their diagnosis with testing.
2. Testing your hearing
To determine the type and degree of your hearing loss, your audiologist will perform a number of different tests. The main types of tests include:
Otoscopy is a simple visual examination of the outer ear canal or ear drum using a medical device called an otoscope.
Tympanometry measures how well the tympanic membrane (ear drum) is moving. This test helps detect fluid in the middle ear, a perforated eardrum, or wax blocking the ear canal.
Audiometry consists of air conduction and bone conduction testing. It’s done in a soundproof room, where you will raise your hand or push a button when you hear sounds. Air conduction testing sends pure tones through every part of your ear to test your hearing across different frequencies. Bone conduction testing measures the sensitivity of your cochlea using a bone vibrator placed behind your ear.
Speech recognition testing evaluates your ability to understand words and sentences spoken at a normal listening level. This helps determine the degree to which background noise interferes with your speech understanding, an important factor when considering your different treatment options.
3. Reviewing your results
The results of your hearing tests are mapped onto a chart called an audiogram, which gives a visual overview of your hearing loss. An audiogram shows the lowest levels that you can detect different sounds, from low to high frequencies. Your audiologist will take time to explain the results of your audiogram, and the implications it has for your treatment.
4. Discussing your treatment options
Once your audiologist understands your hearing loss, they can recommend the treatment options best suited to you. There are treatments for every type and degree of hearing loss, from conventional hearing aids to cochlear implants and bone conduction implants. When considering your choices, think about your lifestyle and what you value most about your hearing. Your priority may be to participate more in work meetings, engage again with your grandchildren, or return to playing a musical instrument. Once your audiologist knows your hearing goals, they can better clarify the pros and cons of your suggested treatment/s and help you choose the right option for you. They will also talk to you about a plan for your aural rehabilitation, so you can learn to listen and communicate in different situations with your new hearing device.
5. Asking questions
It’s crucial that you use your appointment with the audiologist to ask all the questions you need to. This will help you get a clear understanding of your hearing loss and choose the treatment that is right for you. This is also a chance to clarify what you can and can’t expect from your audiologist. Gather as much information as possible, and ask your audiologist to write the answers down for you.