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Talking to Your Healthcare Provider About Hearing Loss

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal risk factors and/or experience with hearing loss. By talking openly and regularly with your healthcare provider, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your healthcare provider:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write out your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

General Tips for Communicating to Accommodate Your Hearing Loss

  • If you have trouble hearing you name called, tell the receptionist how to let you know your healthcare provider is ready for you.
  • Ask for a quiet, well-lit room.
  • Ask your provider to face you and speak clearly. If you cannot hear your doctor, do not hesitate to ask him or her to say things again louder and more slowly and clearly.
  • If you need an interpreter, ask for one when you schedule your appointment. Explain the specific kind of interpreter you need.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Healthcare Provider

About Your Hearing Loss
  • How severe is my hearing loss? What is my degree of hearing impairment?
  • Do I have it in one or both ears? If it is in only one ear, what is my risk of developing it in the other ear?
  • What caused my hearing loss?
About Your Risk of Developing Hearing Loss
  • Given my activities, what is my risk for developing hearing loss, and how can I best prevent it?
About Treatment Options
  • Can my hearing loss be treated?
  • What treatment options are available for my condition?
  • Would a medical procedure help improve my hearing?
  • Would I benefit from some type of hearing aid or assistive device? If so, where can I find a hearing specialist who can help me choose one and learn how to use it?
  • Do you know of any support groups that could help me?
  • Do you know of a counselor who works with people who have a hearing loss?
About Lifestyle Changes
  • What should I do to prevent ear infections?
  • Do I need to avoid cigarette smoke?
  • Are there certain medications that I should avoid?
  • What do I need to do to protect my ears from loud noise?
About Your Outlook
  • What is the outlook for my condition?
  • Do I need to be concerned about this condition recurring?
  • Will it get progressively worse? If so, how fast can I expect the changes to occur?
  • What can I do to prevent my hearing loss from getting worse?

Revision Information

  • Deaf or hard-of-hearing: tips for working with your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/240.xml?printxml . Accessed August 10, 2005.

  • Hearing loss. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=DS00172 . Accessed August 10, 2005.

  • Hearing loss. NIH SeniorHealth, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: http://nihseniorhealth.gov/hearingloss/hearinglossdefined/01.html . Accessed August 10, 2005.

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