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What to Expect at Your First Appointment with Dr. White

If this is your first hearing test, there’s nothing to be worried about! I’ve seen so many patients who are nervous or actually sweating when they enter the soundbooth.  The test isn’t scary, but I understand people are afraid they are going to fail.  I’ve been failing my eye exams for 28 years…but the great part is, I know that I will have help with correction for my vision.  And, really, it’s the same thing with hearing!

So, let’s talk about the process of putting the puzzle together.  Hearing health is not black and white, there are many pieces to the puzzle! 

You’ll either have filled out the patient intake forms online or you can fill them out in person at the office.  When it’s time for your appointment, we will walk back to my office and we will just sit and chat.  I will ask a few questions and then ask a few more to work towards a complete case history and answer any questions you may have. 

Next up is otoscopy.  I will look in both ears and if there is a wax blockage, I can take care of that right in my office.  I have a state-of-the-art irrigation system that provides a thorough cleansing of the ear.  Patients love it!

Then, you head into the booth.  For the past 15 years, I have used insert earphones rather than over-the-ear headphones.   I always start with speech testing because it helps me get an idea of the softest recognizable speech you can hear.  Following the soft speech, I then test word recognition, or you may refer to it as discrimination.  This is presented louder and helps provide more clues to piece everything together.

Next, I present beeps or tones.  Most of these tones are very soft.  I am looking for the softest sounds you hear across the entire frequency range! I test all frequencies including the inter-octaves because they are also an important piece of the puzzle!

Following pure tone testing by air conduction, I usually test speech understanding in background noise.  This part of the test is difficult and more in tune with real life communication.  How many times do we have conversations in complete quiet? This test helps me understand more of the hearing problem. 

Depending upon the results of the tests mentioned above, the next step is to measure uncomfortable loudness levels.  This is a requirement in the state of Florida if the person moves forward with a hearing device.  It takes only a few moments and it’s just a little uncomfortable.

The final step in the booth is to measure bone conduction listening.  All the other testing has been performed with air conduction headphones meaning the sound was presented through the outer ear and ear canal then the sound goes through the middle ear, to the inner ear then to the brain. It’s quite a process!!!  Bone conduction testing is imperative to determine the type of hearing loss whether it be conductive, sensorineural or mixed.  Bone conduction testing uses a very tight headband with a sound transducer that is placed behind the ear.  Again, beeps or tones will be presented, and these tones travel through the skull to the inner ear! 

Finally, the testing is complete, and we walk back to the other part of my office to discuss the results!