Referral to an Audiology department

If you have been referred to an Audiology department, you may like to know a little more about what they do – and what you can expect to happen during your appointment there.
 
Audiology departments or clinics are concerned with issues involving hearing and hearing disorders. However they also see patients who experience problems with balance, as these can also originate from within the ear. A professional who specializes in the testing, monitoring and diagnosis of hearing and balance disorders is known as an  audiologist .
 
The NHS hearing aid service has undergone major changes in recent years and now offers modern digital hearing aids free of charge as part of its service. The high level of demand for digital hearing aids led to increased waiting times in some areas, but since the end of 2008 all NHS providers have been required to meet a maximum 18 week ‘referral to treatment’ target.

What will happen at your initial Audiology appointment?

1.    The audiologist will ask you a few questions about how well you are able to hear in everyday situations and what difficulties you are having.   Click here to see a form that will give you an idea of some questions you may be asked .  You may want to consider your answers to these questions before going to your appointment. You can print this form and take it with you to your appointment as a reminder.

2.    Some questions will be about your general health and medical history, including any medications you’re currently on – so be sure to make a note of any you’ve been taking recently, before your appointment.

Please note that these initial questions will be asked in ENT, if you have been refered there first.

3.    The audiologist will look in your ears with a special torch-like instrument called an otoscope to check the condition of your ear canals and eardrums.

4.    Your hearing will then be tested and the results explained to you. 

5.    Your audiologist will talk to you about the possibility of hearing aids if the results of the hearing tests show that you have a hearing loss, and are likely to benefit. Hearing aids in each ear are usually recomended but your audiologist will say if this is likely to be best for you.

If you are to have hearing aids, you will usually be given a separate appointment to have them fitted. Your Audiologist may need to take an impression of your ear to make an earmould .

Taking the impression takes only a few minutes. Firstly, a small foam ‘plug’ with a thin string attached is placed a short way into your ear to protect it. Then, a small amount of soft, putty-like material is squeezed into your ear using a special tool. The putty takes a few minutes to set, after which it can be safely removed from your ear. The resulting impression is then sent to a laboratory to be made into the earmould, which will be ready by the time of your next appointment.

                        

                       An audiologist taking an impression of a patient's ear

 

Your audiologist will then arrange for you to return and have your hearing aids fitted.

If, however, an ‘open ear fitting’ would be more suitable in your case, you may be able to have the hearing aids fitted at this initial visit. However, there is often a lot to take in during this initial appointment, so you may need a separate appointment regardless of what type of ear fitting you need.

 

Back to 'What you can expect to happen at different NHS appointments' 

 

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