If you suspect you may have hearing loss, call your doctor. After an initial evaluation, your doctor may refer you to a hearing specialist (audiologist).
Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment and to know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- List any symptoms you're experiencing, and for how long. Is the hearing loss in one ear or both? Ask your loved ones to help you make the list. Friends and family may have noticed changes that aren't obvious to you, but they may be important for your doctor to know.
- Write down key medical information, especially related to any problems you've had with your ears. Your doctor will want to know about chronic infections, injury to your ear or previous ear surgery. Also list any medications, vitamins or supplements you're taking.
- Summarize your work history, including any jobs, even those in the distant past, that exposed you to high noise levels.
- Take a family member or friend along. Someone who accompanies you can help you remember all of the information the doctor provides.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor. Having a list of questions in advance can help you make the most of your time with your doctor.
For hearing loss, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Other than the most likely cause, what else might be causing my symptoms?
- What tests do you recommend?
- Should I stop taking any of my current medications?
- Should I see a specialist?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
Sept. 05, 2014
- How would you describe your symptoms? Do you have pain in the affected ear?
- Did your symptoms come on suddenly?
- Do you have ringing, roaring or hissing in your ears?
- Do your symptoms include dizziness or balance problems?
- Do you have a history of ear infections, ear trauma or ear surgery?
- Have you ever worked in a job that exposed you to loud noise, flown airplanes or been in combat in the military?
- Do you have any close relatives who have been affected by hearing loss?
- Does your family complain that you turn up the volume of the television or radio too high?
- Do you have trouble understanding someone who is talking to you in a low voice?
- Do you have trouble understanding someone who is speaking to you on the telephone?
- Do you frequently need to ask others to speak up or repeat themselves during conversation? Does this happen more frequently in a noisy setting, such as a crowded restaurant?
- Can you hear a coin hitting the floor or a door closing?
- Can you hear when someone approaches you from behind?
- Would you be willing to use a hearing aid if needed?
- Presbycusis. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/pages/presbycusis.aspx. Accessed May 24, 2014.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed May 28, 2014.
- Lasak JM, et al. Hearing loss: Diagnosis and management. Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice. 2014;41:19.
- Weber PC. Etiology of hearing loss in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 24, 2014.
- Common sounds. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/education/teachers/pages/common_sounds.aspx. Accessed May 26, 2014.
- Noise and hearing loss prevention: Noise meter. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/noise/noisemeter.html. Accessed May 28, 2014.
- Occupational noise exposure — 1910.95. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=standards&p_id=9735. Accessed May 26, 2014.
- It's a noisy world we live in. How loud is too loud? American Tinnitus Association. http://www.ata.org/for-patients/how-loud-too-loud. Accessed May 24, 2014.
- Occupational noise exposure. Occupational Safety & Health Administration. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/noisehearingconservation/. Accessed May 28, 2014.
- Riggin EA. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 10, 2014.