Learning you have significant hearing loss can be overwhelming. The first step is to visit an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist to rule out any medical conditions that could be affecting your hearing. Next, you’ll want to work with an audiologist to learn about things that can help you manage your hearing loss.
You can help your team by asking questions. Ideas include:
- How severe is my hearing loss?
- What type of hearing loss do I have?
- Is my hearing loss permanent?
- Do I have trouble detecting sound, discriminating words, or both?
- Are one or both ears affected?
- Will my hearing get worse?
- Is there medication that might help?
- Am I a candidate for surgery?
- Could I benefit from a cochlear implant?
- Would a hearing aid help? Which types might work best for me?
- Where can I find assistance in paying for these devices?
- What other devices might be helpful?
- Where can I learn sign language?
- Where can I learn about services like closed captioning and TTY?
- Would I benefit from speech and language therapy?
- What other communication improvement strategies should I know about?
- Should I avoid certain activities?
- Would I benefit from listening therapy?
Information to Share
Your ENT doctor may want to see copies of your previous lab test results or MRI scans. Be sure to find out what you should bring to the appointment beforehand. If you haven't had any testing, your doctor may order MRI or CT scans of your ears.
When you meet with a new ENT doctor or audiologist, it’s helpful to be prepared to share the following information with your hearing specialist:
- Any chronic medical conditions
- Medications or dietary supplements you take regularly
- Any surgeries or infections (such as an ear infection or meningitis) you’ve had that may have damaged the ears
- Any head trauma you’ve had
- Loud noises you’ve been exposed to, including music
- Any hearing loss in your family
- How hearing loss affects your daily life
- If it’s difficult to talk on the phone or to hear the television
- If it’s hard to understand people
- If you have trouble hearing high-pitched sounds or voices
- If hearing loss affects your job, social life, or other activities
- If you feel frustrated, isolated, or depressed
Whether your hearing loss affects one ear or both, and whether you can hear some sounds or none at all, there is no need to be isolated. Work with your doctor to find the best combination of hearing devices and communication strategies.
Start the information-gathering process with realistic expectations. Understand that most devices cannot restore your hearing to normal. But making use of the right tools and resources can help enhance your life.