What to Expect at a Hearing Test
Do you find yourself constantly turning up the volume or asking people to repeat themselves? Have your loved ones suggested that your hearing has deteriorated? Then it is surely time to have a hearing test.
Why Should I Get a Hearing Test?
48 million Americans have hearing loss across all age ranges. Though age is the most significant factor; excessive noises such as loud music, shooting guns, power tools, occupational noises, and even mowing the lawn can cause hearing loss too. Head injuries, ear wax buildup, certain medications, and genetics can also play a role in hearing loss as well.
Untreated hearing loss can lead to serious health consequences like dementia and cognitive decline and an overall decline in quality of life, so getting tested is vital in maintaining our overall health. Consider adding a quick and painless exam with an audiology specialist to your regular health screening process.
Because declining hearing can progress very slowly, it can be hard to tell that you have hearing loss. There are some telltale signs that you may be experiencing a hearing loss like turning the volume up, difficulty understanding people over the telephone, and exhaustion after social situations.
What is a Hearing Test?
A hearing examination is a test performed by an audiology doctor to determine if you have hearing loss. We look at how mild or severe it is, and what type of treatment the hearing loss will best respond to.
The test is non-invasive and painless and will occur in a quiet room that is designed to keep out other noises that might affect your test. It is comprised of three steps: an interview, a physical examination, and a hearing test. We will use an otoscope to check your ear canal, and then you will be wearing headphones that are connected to an audiometer, the tool that is used to conduct your hearing examination.
What Happens During a Hearing Test?
The whole process takes about 30 minutes.
Step One: We will chat about your hearing health history
We will be asking you a series of questions regarding what brought you in for an examination, your hearing health history, medical history, and about potential causes of hearing loss.
Some questions may include a family history of hearing loss, allergies, ear infections, ear wax problems, ear or head injuries, and exposure to loud noises. We will also want to discuss your symptoms and their effect on your life. For example, your volume button habits, telephone conversation problems, fatigue after social interactions, etc. may all be topics of conversation.
Step Two: We will examine your ears
To assess the physical health of your ears, we need to use a device called an otoscope to look into your ear canal and your eardrum. We will also use this device during your annual physical exam, so it should be familiar to you. We look for inflammation and ensure that ear wax is not obstructing your hearing.
Step Three: We will test your hearing
This step of the hearing test is made of four types of methods, each testing a different hearing aspect.
Pure Tone Audiometry
During a pure tone audiometry test, you will listen to tones at different pitches and volumes. It measures the softest sounds you can hear at every frequency that is tested. We will talk to you and give you instructions through your headphones on how to complete the test. Sometimes the tones are very soft, so you will have to focus intently throughout the entire examination.
The next method of testing is speech audiometry, which uses recorded or live speech to evaluate the softest sounds you can hear. We will ask you to repeat back words to test your understanding.
Sometimes, we might need to perform tympanometry and test your acoustic reflexes or eardrum motion. This makes pressure changes in your ear to check how well your eardrum is moving and measures the reflexive responses of the muscles in your inner ear.
This aspect of hearing test helps to determine what type of hearing loss you may have, conductive or sensorineural. Sensorineural hearing loss is permanent and the most prevalent type of hearing loss, and it occurs when the tiny hair-like cells in the inner ear or the auditory nerve are damaged. Conductive hearing loss is caused by damage or obstruction to the outer or middle ear that obstructs sound from being carried or conducted to the inner ear.
During this test, we will place a device behind your ear called a bone vibrator that tests your inner ear’s responsiveness to sounds.
Step Four: We will review your test results
After finishing your hearing exam, we will review your results to determine whether you have hearing loss. Depending on how mild or severe it is and the type of hearing loss you have, this should indicate the best treatment plan we can provide for you.
We will discuss the results of the test with you and go over the best methods for treatment, answer any questions, and schedule any further appointments for treatment or evaluation. If you need any further clarification, have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to bring them up with me.
You can return to work or your regular activities immediately following your hearing test. There is no need to get anyone to drive you home, as there is no sedation or impediment of your faculties. Always follow the advice of your audiology specialist or doctor; delay in treatment can lead to serious health risks.
Contact me today to schedule your hearing test.