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

Your GP may refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) service.

They will do this if you need a consultation with an ENT surgeon.

For example, this could happen if you have 1 of the following:

  • a perforation in your eardrum
  • an infection in your ear
  • if you need medical checks on your ear

Here is a general guide to what may happen before, during and after an ENT audiology 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 can 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 if it's your first visit.

You can bring someone with you to the clinic. There may be limited seating so we recommend you only bring 1 person.

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

The ENT audiology service does not deal with hearing aids.

Get your HSE hearing aid repaired

During your appointment

When you arrive at the clinic, you'll 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 questions about your hearing and look in your ears with a bright torch (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 with an audiometer.

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

Hearing tests for adults

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

What the ENT doctor does

An ENT doctor will usually ask you detailed questions before they examine you.

These questions are usually about:

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

They may also ask questions about:

  • how well you can hear in different listening situations
  • any difficulties you may have

Sometimes they 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

Treatment will depend on how severe your hearing loss is. It also depends on whether it is temporary or permanent hearing loss.

In conductive hearing loss (which affects the outer or middle ear) there may be a condition that needs treatment. This may include both medical and surgical treatment.

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

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

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 - you will be referred to the HSE audiology services if you have a medical card
  • referred to other specialist services, such as services for cochlear implants or bone-anchored hearing aids
  • returned to the care of your GP

We will send details about any follow-on appointments by post.

Page last reviewed: 31 January 2023
Next review due: 31 January 2026