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Going to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) appointment about your hearing

Your GP may refer you directly to an ear nose and throat (ENT) service. This will happen if you need a consultation with an ENT surgeon. For example, if you have a perforation in your eardrum, an infection in your ear or require medical checks on your ear.

This is a general guide to what may happen before, during and after an ENT audiology appointment.

Before your appointment

Before your appointment, tell a member of staff if you need them to arrange an interpreter for you.

This will help if:

  • you are deaf or hard of hearing
  • English is not your first language

Waiting times vary but you should allow up to 3 hours for your appointment. You will get a set time but there may be delays.

Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your appointment. This will give you time to complete any paperwork, especially at your first visit.

You can bring someone with you to the clinic. There may be limited seating so we recommend you bring one person only.

If you need to change or cancel your appointment please contact us as soon as possible. We can offer your appointment to someone else.

The ENT audiology service does not deal with hearing aids. The HSE community audiology service will be able to check or repair your hearing aid if it was provided by them.

During your appointment

When you arrive at the clinic, you will be checked in by the receptionist. They will then ask you to wait for your consultation with the ENT specialist.

The consultant will usually oversee a small team of specialist doctors. You may be seen by any member of the ENT team.

Hearing test

When you arrive for your ENT appointment, you could be referred to the audiologist for a hearing test before seeing the doctor.

If this is the case, the audiologist will take you to a sound booth. You can bring a family member or friend if you need to.

The audiologist will ask you some routine questions about your hearing and look in your ears with a bright torch called and an otoscope. This is to check that there’s no obvious obstruction or excess wax that might need to be removed. They will make sure that your ear canals and eardrums are healthy before testing your hearing using an audiometer.

The audiologist may also want to determine how your middle ear is working, using tympanometry.

The audiologist will then pass your test results to the ENT doctor.

What the ENT doctor does

Before they examine you, the ENT doctor will usually ask you detailed questions about your:

  • hearing
  • medical history
  • any family history of hearing loss
  • any balance problems

He may also ask you questions about how well you can hear in different listening situations and any difficulties you may have.

Occasionally they will use a special microscope for a more detailed view.

The ENT doctor will then explain the results of the hearing tests. They will also discuss the options available to help you.

The hearing tests will show how severe the hearing loss is.

This is usually graded as:

  • satisfactory
  • mild
  • moderate
  • severe
  • profound hearing loss

Discussing treatment options

The treatment depends on how severe your hearing loss is. It also depends on whether yours is a temporary or permanent hearing loss.

In conductive hearing loss (affecting the outer or middle ear) there may be a condition that needs to be treated. Treatment may include both medical and surgical intervention.

If they recommend you get hearing aids, they may refer you back to the audiologist to discuss this.

If they think that your hearing loss can be treated by medication or surgery, they will discuss the options with you.

After your appointment

After your ENT audiology appointment you may be:

  • sent for more tests such as blood tests, balance tests, or radiological tests
  • advised to get a hearing aid and then referred to HSE community audiology services if you have a medical card or private hearing services
  • referred to other specialist services like cochlear implant or bone-anchored hearing aid
  • discharged back to the care of your GP

Details about any follow-on appointments will be sent to you by post.

page last reviewed: 06/08/2019
next review due: 06/08/2022