If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing, the first step is to take a hearing exam. The first time you meet an audiologist there is nothing to fear, as you are just getting a baseline of your current hearing abilities. Once a baseline is established, hearing can be effectively monitored, preventive measures can be implemented, and treatment can be prescribed sooner than later if hearing begins to change. This ensures better success with treatment when needed. It is estimated that people wait an average of seven years from the time they first experience changes until they decide to seek help with their hearing. By addressing changes in your hearing early, you will experience many benefits to your health.
As you are preparing for your hearing exam, there are several things to consider. If you are being treated for a medical condition, note the condition and medication you are taking. You may hear differently throughout the day. Note the times and locations in which you struggle the most with hearing. Compile your personal and family’s medical history, as this will offer extra information for Dr. Ivory.
At the consultation, you will speak to Dr. Ivory about your lifestyle, activities, employment, and current experiences with hearing. He will ask about your personal and family’s medical history to identify if there is any hereditary hearing loss. If you have been treated recently for an illness or medical condition, he will ask about the medications you were prescribed. All of this will come in handy as we proceed with the hearing test. Dr. Ivory will also discuss with you how well you feel you communicate in day-to-day activities and set your personal communication goals and expectations.
Following the consultation, Dr. Ivory will conduct a physical examination of your head, neck, and ear area. Using an otoscope, he will check the conditions of your ear canals and eardrums. He is looking to see if there is any blockage due to impacted earwax, inflammation, or damage to your eardrums. He will also evaluate your finger and hand abilities to manipulate small objects and screen your vision, as needed.
Hearing tests are designed to assess your current hearing abilities. The test evaluates your eardrum function, outer hair cell function, and acoustic reflexes, as needed. During the hearing test, you will be asked to sit in our spacious soundproof room with insert headphones on. The pure tone assessment requires you to indicate when you hear a sound. Dr. Ivory will play a series of tones at different frequencies and volumes. You will be asked to push a button if you hear a sound. In the speech recognition portion of the test, Dr. Ivory will read out a series of words at different volumes, standing at various distances from you. You will be asked to repeat the words or phrases.
Further, Dr. Ivory will also measure your individual discomfort levels to loud sounds and also examine your speech understanding in noise abilities. The test Dr. Ivory utilizes for speech-in-noise testing is the QuickSIN. The QuickSIN is a speech-in-noise test that quickly and easily measures the ability to hear in noise. Speech understanding in noise cannot be reliably predicted from the hearing results, alone. This test has high face validity as patients report that the QuickSIN lists sound just like the problem they have in the real world
The results of your hearing test are recorded on an audiogram, a visual representation of your hearing abilities by ear. The speech recognition portion of the test will be recorded as a percentage. From these results, Dr. Ivory is able to determine the configuration and degree of hearing loss, if it is present. If you have hearing loss, Dr. Ivory will show you the implications of your hearing loss graphically by superimposing it over a “speech banana” which demonstrates exactly which speech sounds you are not hearing, and thus why communication and speech understanding is difficult.
Your audiogram provides both kinds of information with the vertical axis depicting loudness and the horizontal axis depicting frequency. Each ear will be plotted separately, enabling Dr. Ivory to understand if you have asymmetrical hearing loss between your two ears.
If hearing loss is present, Dr. Ivory will determine your need for a communication plan, hearing aids, cochlear implants, assistive listening devices, group rehabilitation workshops, or medical referrals. The most common treatment for hearing loss is the prescription of hearing aids. At La Cañada Hearing Aids & Audiology, we offer hearing aids from leading manufacturers and will guide you through every step of the fitting process. Dr Ivory will also discuss your financial considerations when hearing aids are recommended. Preventive measures, with or without hearing loss, will also be recommended.