Regular hearing tests are an important way to help maintain your best overall health and well-being. In fact, the non-profit Better Hearing Institute recommends getting a hearing test once every decade until age 50, and once every three years after that. Some people, such as those who work in high-risk industries or have a medical history suggesting a higher risk of hearing loss, should be tested even more frequently.
Why Get a Hearing Test If I Can Hear?
Regular testing is important because hearing loss is not an all-or-nothing scenario. We tend to lose hearing slowly, little by little, over a long time. If you take a hearing test and find out that you have some measurable amount of hearing loss, you can take measures to try to prevent further hearing loss going forward. Not all hearing loss is preventable, but there are steps you can take, such as wearing hearing protection—or more potent hearing protection—and quitting smoking, among others, that will reduce your risk for more severe hearing loss down the road.
It’s usually someone else who tells us for the first time that we have hearing loss. Unlike with vision—where your sight becomes blurry and you know you need a new glasses prescription—hearing loss makes us unable to hear certain sounds at all. Another person in the room might notice a strange sound and try to draw your attention to it. If you can’t also hear the sound, this could be a good indicator that you have hearing loss.
Hearing tests are the best way to determine whether you have hearing loss, and, if so, how much and what type. They take only about a half hour, they’re completely painless, and they can help you make sure you’re doing the best you can to maintain your best health and well-being. While your doctor may recommend getting a hearing test, you do not require a doctor’s recommendation to do so.
What to Expect at Your Hearing Test
When you arrive for your first hearing test with us, our staff will ask you to fill out a case history form. Here, you’ll answer some simple questions about your medical and hearing history. Since hearing loss can have many causes, this is the first step in starting to assess what might be causing your hearing loss in case your test shows that you have some.
Next, you’ll consult with your audiologist. They’ll ask questions about the answers on your intake form to help get a better understanding of what you’re experiencing and what your concerns may be.
If you know you’re having hearing issues, they’ll want to talk about where and when your hearing loss is giving you the most trouble. They’ll ask about what your daily activities are like and what kinds of activities are most important to you. This will help determine what type of hearing aids might be the best fit for your lifestyle.
They’ll also make a brief physical examination of your outer ears using an otoscope (the same type your general practitioner uses when you come in) to ensure there’s no blockage or inflammation that might be causing hearing loss.
The Hearing Test
The hearing test is painless and non-invasive. Your audiologist will ask you to step into a sound-proof booth. This helps keep out any sounds that might interfere and make your test results inaccurate. Once inside, you’ll wear a pair of headphones and the test will begin.
Your audiologist will play a series of tones into the headphones. The tones will be at different pitches and volume levels, sometimes in both ears and sometimes just one. You’ll be asked to respond every time you hear a sound. If the results of your pure-tone audiometry test are within the “normal” range (less than 20 dBHL of hearing loss), you will not have to take any further tests.
This test may also be administered to aid in programming hearing aids. The same as speech audiometry, but with background noise added in. Because modern hearing aids can separate background noise from speech and treat each type of sound differently, this is also very useful for programming your hearing aids to be as comfortable as possible to listen through.
Very similar to pure-tone audiometry, but using speech instead of tones. The goal is to find out how quiet speech can be in order for you to hear it, and how loud it can be before it sounds uncomfortable to you. This test is used in creating the initial programming for hearing aids.
Hearing Test Results
The results of your pure-tone test are displayed on an “audiogram.” The audiogram shows your hearing ability in each ear at a range of different frequencies. Your audiologist will go over your audiogram with you and answer any questions you may have.
If hearing aids are recommended for your level of hearing ability, you can proceed to discuss the available options immediately after your hearing test.
If you or a loved one is having hearing issues, or if you’re simply due for a hearing test, make an appointment with us today and take the steps necessary to maintain your best hearing health and well-being!
Have questions or would you like to schedule an appointment?
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