If you've decided to get your hearing checked out for the first time, knowing what to expect at your first appointment can help you better prepare and get more out of your visit. Whether you've noticed gradual hearing loss over the years that has lately had more of an impact on your relationships, or you suddenly began experiencing tinnitus, here's a handy guide to help you prepare for your first hearing appointment:
Do some research
Gearing up to address your hearing loss can be a bit intimidating. For some people, it's hard to admit that something is wrong. Others fear having to wear hearing aids, which can make them feel like they stand out. As for any health condition, it's a good idea to do a little research before you see a doctor. Try to avoid worrying about the worst case scenarios that you might find out from your research and, instead, focus on the variety of solutions available to you.
Make a list of the hearing loss symptoms you are experiencing. You should also ask family members or close friends for any observations they have. For example, your spouse might have noticed that you have been increasingly asking him or her to repeat something because you didn't catch it the first time. For starters, here are some questions to ask yourself to determine your symptoms:
- Do you have difficulty understand conversations, especially when there is more than one speaker and in situations with background noise?
- Do you often need to turn up the radio or TV volume? Do other people comment that it is too loud?
- Does it sometimes sound like others are mumbling?
- Does speech or other sounds seem muffled?
- Do you frequently have to ask others to repeat themselves?
- Do you find yourself avoiding or withdrawing from conversations, social settings and the telephone because these environments have become frustrating and/or embarrassing for you?
These questions can help you describe your symptoms to an audiologist or other hearing health practitioner at your appointment. Also, make a separate list of questions about your worries and fears about hearing loss to ask your doctor.
What to bring
Make sure you are prepared to the utmost for your first visit with your hearing healthcare practitioner to discuss your hearing loss. Here's what to bring:
- A referral form, if necessary - check with your insurance provider beforehand to see if a referral is necessary. If it is, your general practitioner can provide you with a referral and form
- Your insurance cards
- Photo ID
- Contact information for your physicians, including their addresses and phone numbers
- Your list of symptoms
- Your list of questions
- Health history or your health records from your general practitioner
- Key medical information like chronic infections, ear injury or surgery or past tinnitus
- A family member or friend, who can provide support, ask questions you may have forgotten and help you take notes or remember what you are told
- A list of medications, supplements and vitamins you are taking or have taken recently
- Paper and pen or laptop/tablet for note-taking
- Summary of your work history
Be prepared for questions
Here are some questions that your healthcare professional might ask you:
- Were your symptoms sudden?
- Do you have hissing, roaring or ringing in your ears?
- Do you have balance problems and dizziness?
- Do any close relatives have hearing loss?
- Do you have a history of ear trauma, surgery or infections?
- Have you been in military combat, flown planes or worked in a job that exposed you to loud noise?
- Do you have pain in your affected ear?
- Is it difficult to understand someone talking in a low voice?
- Can you hear: a coin hitting the floor? a door closing? when someone approaches you from behind?
- How is hearing loss affecting your life?
- Might you be willing to use a hearing aid if necessary?