Many people who are diagnosed with hearing loss are prepared for the diagnosis, often because they have noticed symptoms of the condition and are simply seeking official confirmation from their audiologist. You suspected you had hearing loss, you made an appointment with an audiologist, and now the diagnosis has been confirmed; the process seems to be complete.

However, diagnosis may be the end of suspecting if you have hearing loss, but it is also a beginning; the beginning of the road to treating and managing the condition.

Here are four questions to ask your audiologist following your diagnosis as you contemplate the next steps:

1. What type of hearing loss do I have?

Understanding which type of hearing loss, you have will govern decisions regarding treatment. Here’s a quick overview of the three main types: 

  • Sensorineural hearing loss occurs due to damage in the inner ear or auditory nerve. Age-related hearing loss and noise-induced hearing loss are both sensorineural in nature. 
  • Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is a physical barrier preventing sound waves from reaching the cochlea; this barrier could be earwax buildup, fluid buildup, or a tumor. 
  • Mixed hearing loss is used if a person has both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. 

2. What degree of hearing loss do I have? 

Hearing loss is measured in degrees, based on how loud a sound has to be to be heard clearly. For example, people without hearing loss can usually hear sounds between 10-15 decibels, while those with mild hearing loss need sounds to be between 26-40 decibels, and people with severe hearing loss can hear sounds between 71-90 decibels. It’s important to know your degree of hearing loss so you can choose the best hearing aid style for your needs.

3. Is there anything I can do to prevent further hearing loss? 

There are often lifestyle factors involved in hearing loss, particularly when it comes to exposure to loud noise – anything over 85 decibels is considered to be potentially harmful to hearing. If you are regularly exposed to sounds over this level, your audiologist can advise you on hearing protection that can help to prevent further loss.

4. What is the best treatment for my hearing loss?

When hearing loss has been diagnosed, the condition should be treated, so it’s always good to get an idea of the treatment options available so that you know what will happen next. Both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss can be successfully treated with hearing aids, and this is likely to be the route that your audiologist suggests. Your audiologist can guide you through the process of selecting a hearing aid that is suitable for your type of hearing loss, and can also fit, program and help to maintain this device in the future. 

Asking the above questions should help to increase your understanding of your hearing loss, and also set you on the right path to finding a treatment plan that works for you.