Recognizing that you may have a hearing loss isn’t easy. If it’s difficult to hear people talk, especially in a noisy situation, or if you find yourself turning up the radio to understand what’s being said, you should consider having your hearing tested. Hearing loss comes about in many ways and sometimes requires medical treatment. Audiologists provide a comprehensive exam that includes medical diagnoses. Here are three tips for a successful trip to the audiologist.

Look at credentials and experience

Audiologists specialize in a wide range of hearing healthcare services. They evaluate and diagnose hearing loss as well as treating balance disorders, ringing in the ears, earwax removal and auditory nerve function.

Audiologists have a professional degree, usually a Doctor or Audiology (Au.D.), a Doctor of Philosophy in Audiology (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Science in Audiology (Sc.D.). These professionals are licensed by the state and subscribe to a professional code of ethics. They also can provide counseling regarding your hearing loss.

Know what to expect

When you meet the audiologist, they will ask your medical and family history pertaining to hearing loss. You need to bring a list of all medications you’re taking and prepare to discuss any hearing issues you have. The audiologist examines your ear, ear canal and eardrum and then performs some hearing tests. These include a tympanometry test to check how your eardrum reacts to pressure along with a couple of hearing evaluations. These exams measure how well you hear different volumes, pitches and speech. Expect this first visit to take about an hour.

Lay the groundwork

Prior to your first visit, it’s a good idea to do some research. First, you will want to find an audiologist with an established practice and convenient location or locations. Look for flexible office hours that meet your schedule and a friendly office staff.

You will also want to check with your insurance company to determine what is covered and if there’s a co-pay or deductible. There may also be referral requirements.

The first appointment covers a lot of ground – medical history, the exam, diagnosis and treatment options. Knowing a little about the details goes a long way, so take some time to do internet searches on audiology, hearing tests and hearing aids to help you better understand what will happen. You’ll also feel more comfortable talking to the audiologist when you have some background knowledge.

Finally, visit the audiologist’s website. There’s a good deal of information there about the practice and the staff.

A successful trip to the audiologist involves a bit of preparation. Learning about hearing loss prior to your visit gives you a good idea about the exams and treatment options. Your comfort level increases greatly when you know what to expect. Taking steps toward improving your hearing health will lead to a better day-to-day life.