The average person with hearing loss waits five years before seeking a hearing screening from a health care professional. In our opinion, that’s five years too long to wait for a relatively simple solution to a problem that only gets worse with time.
Is it time for you to schedule a hearing test? These are a few signs that you might be suffering from hearing loss:
- Do you find yourself asking others to repeat what they have said?
- Do other people complain because you watch TV or listen to the radio at a high volume?
- Do you miss things during phone conversations?
- Do you respond incorrectly to what people say?
- Is it hard to understand what people are saying when there is background noise?
- Do members of your family have hearing difficulties?
- Do you work – or have you worked – in a noisy environment?
- Do you ever have a ringing in your ears?
If you’ve answered yes to more than one of these questions, it may be time to undergo a hearing test.
What happens at a hearing test?
A hearing test is nothing to worry about. It involves a simple series of procedures, including a review of your personal information, a physical exam, and a couple of hearing tests designed to evaluate the degree and type of your hearing loss. In a typical hearing test, this is what you can expect:
- Review personal information. When you sit down with a hearing professional, you’ll review your personal information and discuss the types of environments in which you may have trouble hearing. You may talk about work history, exposure to loud sounds or the specific ways in which you’ve experienced hearing loss.
- Physical exam of the ears. During a hearing test, the hearing specialist will typically examine your ears using an otoscope. This instrument enables the specialist to see your ear canal and ear drum and see if excess ear wax is obstructing the ear canal.
- A pure tone hearing test. The first part of the actual hearing test is typically a pure tone hearing test. During a pure tone hearing test, you’ll be seated in a quiet environment, and the specialist will put a pair of headphones that are connected to an audiometer over your ears. You’ll be asked to raise your hand or say “yes” when you hear specific tones, and the audiometer will emit a variety of frequencies to determine your hearing threshold and where specifically in the ear you have experienced hearing loss.
- Speech testing. Finally, you’ll undergo speech testing. You’ll listen to a series of words at different volumes and be asked to repeat them. This test is designed to determine how well you hear and understand speech in a noisy environment.
After your hearing test, your specialist will review your results with you. You’ll discuss the degree, type and pattern of hearing loss, as well as the level at which you can hear and understand conversational speech. With this information, you can discuss treatment solutions and consider whether a hearing aid might be the right solution for you.
Please bring a spouse, family member or friend with you for the “familiar voice” part of the evaluation. Like seeing your doctor or dentist, if you are 55 or older, it is recommended you have a hearing test annually.