When to get a Hearing Test
Most hearing loss develops gradually, so the signs are difficult to detect. Ask yourself these questions to evaluate how you are hearing:
1. Do people seem to mumble or speak in a softer voice more than they use to?
2. Do you feel tired or irritable after a long conversation?
3. Do you sometimes miss key words in a sentence?
4. Do you frequently need to ask people to repeat themselves?
5. Do you have difficulty understanding the conversation in a crowded room?
6. Do you often turn the volume up on the TV or radio?
7. Does background noise bother you?
8. Is it sometimes hard to hear the conversation on the telephone?
9. Do you sometimes not hear the doorbell or telephone ring?
10. Are your family or friends complaining about your hearing?
If you answered YES to two or more of these questions, you may want to schedule a hearing test by a trusted hearing healthcare provider. Through testing, an audiologist can tell you whether you have a hearing loss as well as its nature and extent. If a hearing loss is detected, an appropriate course of action will be recommended.
Do You Need A Hearing Test?
Your hearing is a precious gift, one you need to take care of or run the risk of losing. An important part of hearing care is having your hearing checked periodically. There are several levels of hearing evaluation, from a basic hearing test to more complex diagnostic tests for specific problems.
Basic Hearing Testing
A basic hearing test is performed in a quiet area (preferably a Sound Booth) with an audiometer, a device that produces various pitch sounds (frequencies) at different levels (intensities). The person responds to the sounds by either raising his/her hand or pushing a button.
Results are then charted on an audiogram, which gives the audiologist an indication of whether hearing is within normal limits or if a problem may exist.
If a hearing loss is detected, more testing can be performed to better define the nature and extent and possible cause of the hearing loss. Each test evaluates a different part of the ear. Some typical tests performed include:
Additional diagnostic testing
- Tympanogram – tests the eardrum and the middle ear (the space behind the eardrum).
- Acoustic reflexes – measures the movement of the tiny bones behind the eardrum.
- Otoacoustic emission (OAE) – checks the function of the tiny little hair cells in the inner ear.
- Speech testing – evaluates the effect of the hearing loss on understanding speech. Sometimes this is performed in both a quiet and noisy background, using live or recorded voice.
The 4-Step Process
The interview determines the nature of your hearing concern and uncovers any specific areas that may require further attention.
Purpose: To help your professional determine the extent of your problem and uncover any specific areas requiring further attention.
Some Typical Questions:
- Has anyone else in your family had hearing loss?
- Have you had any illnesses or injuries that might have affected your hearing?
- Have you taken any medications that might have affected your hearing?
- Have you been exposed to loud noises in your job or leisure activities?
The examination determines whether the perception of a Sound Void you are experiencing could be caused by an obstruction or damage to the ear canal or eardrum.
Purpose: To help your professional determine whether the hearing difficulty you are experiencing could be caused by an obstruction or damage to the ear canal or ear drum. Your professional will use a special instrument called an otoscope or video otoscope to inspect the outer ear.
The diagnostic process determines the nature of your Sound Voids. This process may include additional tests, depending on the assessment of your needs.
Purpose: To help the hearing care professional determine the nature of your hearing loss. Your Audiologist may include hearing tests like the following:
- Audiometric pure tone evaluation to measure your hearing at different frequencies.
- Speech evaluation to measure how well you hear and understand ordinary conversation at different volumes.
- Immittance middle ear evaluation to measure how your ear drum and hearing react to varying degrees of air pressure.
- If you are suffering from a hearing loss, your results will be documented on an audiogram.
Treatment solutions determine what type of hearing technology is most appropriate for your hearing difficulty, your test results, your desired listening lifestyle, and your cosmetic preferences.
Hearing aids?come in a variety of designs, with a wide range of functions and features to address an individual?s specific needs. The most basic components include a microphone, an amplifier, a receiver, and (in the case of digital hearing systems) a small computer. The unprecedented effectiveness of modern digital systems comes from a powerful combination of professional expertise, software, and hardware.
Surgery & Implants
Devices surgically inserted into the ear to improve hearing, facilitate lip-reading, and make it easier to distinguish certain sounds. Typically, these are most helpful to deaf or profoundly hearing-impaired people unable to use hearing aids.
A few examples of surgical implants:
- Cochlear Implants
- Middle Ear Implants
- Bone-Anchored Hearing Aids
- Auditory Brainstem Implants
Assistive Listening Devices
Specialized technologies that help people with all degrees of hearing loss. These devices can facilitate improved face-to-face communication, reception of electronic media, telephone reception, and reception of important warning sounds and situations.