It’s estimated that one in three people over 65 has some hearing loss. If you haven’t had a hearing test in decades and you’re over 55, it’s a good idea to have an exam and see an audiologist. The first step is to meet with the audiologist for a consultation. Here are three questions to ask at an audiologist appointment.

1. What is your experience?

All audiologists are happy to give you information about their background, their education and their association with the practice. Audiologists are licensed by the state and have advanced degrees, usually a doctorate in audiology. He or she may discuss where they performed their clinical training and how long they’ve been working as an audiologist. Some audiologists specialize in particular areas, such as balance disorders and may discuss that as well.

2. What happens at this exam?

After your consultation, the examination begins. The audiologist takes a full medical history with family background and a list of all medications you take. You’ll also want to mention if someone in the family had hearing loss. After answering some health questions, the audiologist will perform a physical examination of your ears, looking in your ear canal and at your eardrum for any injuries or signs of infection or earwax blockages. Next, the audiologist will perform the hearing tests. This usually consists of two or three painless exams. A tympanometry test measures how your eardrum responds to light pressure. Hearing tests will check your response to varying pitches at different volumes. The results will determine whether your hearing loss is sensorineural, conductive or mixed.

Sensorineural hearing loss involves the inability to transmit sound to the brain and may be caused by illness, trauma, age and noise exposure. It’s usually permanent. Conductive hearing loss indicates that sound is not passing to the inner ear and may be due to a blockage such as impacted earwax, fluid in the ear or allergies. Conductive loss can be temporary or permanent. Mixed hearing loss means both sensorineural and conductive hearing losses are present.

3. What if I need hearing aids?

The audiologist will know the answer to this question after the hearing tests are completed. He or she will take time to discuss options with you, including cost and style of hearing aids. Once you’ve determined those factors, the audiologist may take earmold impressions for a custom fit or may provide an over the ear hearing aid that you can wear right away. The hearing aids are programmed to specifically compensate for your unique hearing loss. The audiologist will discuss how to care for the units, how to adjust them, change batteries and how to clean them.

With answers to these three questions to ask at an audiology appointment, you should feel more confident about how to proceed once you know your test results. Audiologists are trained to work with you to provide the best answers to your hearing concerns.