Hearing loss can affect any individual and it usually progresses gradually. Do you suspect you have a hearing impairment? It is recommended that you get it checked out by scheduling a baseline hearing test. You should keep in mind that hearing loss has far-reaching effects on your health, thus you need to catch it early. Hearing tests are designed to determine the severity of your hearing loss condition – is it mild or severe? The tests also define the type of hearing loss you are suffering from (sensorineural, conductive, or mixed) and the best treatment method for your needs, e.g. using hearing aids.
If you have already scheduled your hearing test, congratulation! You have conquered a major hindrance to healthier hearing and living. If you have not done this before, here is what you can expect in your hearing test:
The first stage of your hearing test often involves an audiologist going through your general medical history, identifying your hearing loss symptoms (how they are negatively affecting your life), determining possible causes (e.g. how often you expose yourself to loud sounds), and what you would like to achieve (in terms of better hearing). Next, your hearing healthcare professional will analyze the presence of any other conditions and may make medical referrals. For example, an individual with an impaction of earwax only requires a professional cleaning.
Hearing care professionals utilize audiograms to categorize a patient’s hearing abilities. A bone conduction test often comprises a two-part process: listen and react. The patient is required to wear headphones and listen to beeping sounds. The audiologist will play the infamous tones at varying frequencies and levels. When you hear the tone, you will raise your hand or press a button. For example, if you hear the tone being played on your left ear, you raise your left hand. From this test, the audiologist can determine your hearing threshold, i.e. the softest level you can consistently hear.
A speech test requires you to stand in a sound booth, wear a pair of headphones, and repeat the words you will hear through them. Speech reception threshold (SRT) tests are designed to determine the softest level at which you can recognize words. The volume of those spoken words will keep decreasing until your score is 50%. That level is your threshold. Next up is word recognition testing (WRT). This time, it is different as the words will be played at normal volume. WRT is used to find out if the individual has a hard time understanding speech. The results from these speech tests are then used to determine how well you might do with assistive devices, such as hearing aids.
If hearing loss is confirmed, your hearing specialist will discuss possible treatment options with you. Hearing aids are recommended if surgical or medical treatments cannot restore the hearing damage. Today, you have access to a wide range of hearing aids. They come in many different colors, sizes, and shapes. Your hearing specialist will help you find the ideal hearing aid model that meets your hearing health goals and budget.