Planning for your audiologist visit

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 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.

Learn more about hearing tests

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 at which 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 most types and degrees of hearing loss, from conventional hearing aids to cochlear implants, hybrid 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.

Learn about different hearing treatments
Learn about adult aural rehabilitation

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.

Following are some general questions to ask during your audiologist visit.

  • How much does the hearing treatment cost/is it covered by insurance?
  • How long will it last?
  • How will it fit in with my lifestyle?
  • Given my type of loss, how successful do you expect my results to be?
  • Will I be able to enjoy music again?
  • Will I be able to use a telephone?
  • How much will my speech recognition improve?
  • Can I upgrade if the technology improves in future years?
  • What happens when I need maintenance and repairs?
  • Where can I find more information?
  • What will happen if my hearing changes?
  • How do I care for my device?
  • How do I connect with other people who use this treatment? 
  • What assistive listening devices can help me?
  • What does rehabilitation involve?
  • How should I contact you with questions, and what would the response time be?

Following are some questions to ask if you are candidate for hearing aids.

  • What are the different types and styles of hearing aids?
  • Do all hearing aids work the same way?
  • Which hearing aid will work best for me?
  • What features would be most useful to me?
  • What is the total cost?
  • Do the benefits of newer technologies outweigh the higher costs?
  • How long is the trial period?  
  • How long is the warranty and can it be extended?  
  • Will you show me how to use my hearing aid?  
  • Should I consider buying a hearing aid online?

Following are some questions to ask if you are candidate for cochlear implants.

  • What are the advantages of a cochlear implant over a hearing aid?
  • Is the implant guaranteed to work?
  • Can I talk to someone who has had an implant?
  • What happens at the cochlear implant clinic?
  • How long will I have to wait to have the surgery?
  • What happens during surgery?
  • Will I be able to hear immediately after surgery?
  • Will I have a visible scar?
  • What are the risks of surgery?
  • How familiar are you with cochlear implants?  
  • Which ear will I have implanted?
  • What is the latest technology?
  • What is a hybrid cochlear implant or bimodal hearing solution?
  • What adaptors or accessories can I use with a cochlear implant?
  • Will I be able to swim and play sports?  
  • What support do I get?

Following are some questions to ask if you are candidate for bone conduction implants.

  • How can a bone conduction implant help me?
  • What are the advantages of a bone conduction implant over a hearing aid?
  • Can I trial a bone conduction implant?
  • Will I be able to hear immediately after surgery?
  • Will I have a visible scar?
  • What are the risks of surgery?
  • How familiar are you with bone conduction implants?
  • Which ear will I have implanted?
  • Will I be able to swim and play sports?
  • What adaptors or accessories I can use with a bone conduction implant?
  • What support do I get?
Download our Audiologist Guide to take to your appointment

6. Next steps

If you are a candidate for hearing aids, your audiologist can talk to you about the different types and styles of hearing aids and help you choose the best model for your unique hearing needs. If you are choosing a custom made style, your audiologist may also take impressions of your ears, so your hearing aid can be made to fit the shape of your ear. If you are having a conventional behind-the-ear model, your audiologist may refer you to a hearing aid specialist for a fitting.

Learn about the steps to getting a hearing aid

If you are a candidate for a cochlear implant your audiologist will refer you for further testing, which is typically done at a cochlear implant clinic. If you are a candidate for bone conduction implant, you may be referred to another audiologist or a surgeon with experience in bone conduction implants.

Learn about the steps to getting a cochlear implant
Learn about the steps to getting a bone conduction implant
Learn about the steps to getting a hybrid implant

In some cases, your audiologist may make other referrals before they can recommend a hearing treatment. For instance, they may refer you to an ear, nose and throat specialist (otolaryngologist) so medical issues can be ruled out as the cause of your hearing loss.

Learn about the different hearing specialists

The information on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, prescribe treatment, or replace medical advice. Please consult a hearing healthcare professional to diagnose or treat a hearing or health problem.

Find a hearing health specialist

Hearing health specialists can talk to you about your treatment options and discuss any further steps for preventing or limiting hearing loss.

Find a specialist