It’s the New Year and after all the time spent with family and friends over the holidays you may have begun to notice some changes to your hearing. It’s possible that it was more difficult to hear at the dinner table with everyone talking or maybe others have mentioned repeating themselves more often. Regardless, the New Year presents the perfect opportunity to go get your hearing checked.

Who should get a hearing test?

Many don’t know but hearing tests are actually suggested for people without any signs of hearing loss as well. In fact, it is recommended that every adult receive at least one, baseline hearing test and then follow their provider’s recommended follow up plan. Why is this?

Hearing loss can be caused by a wide range of situations: from age and noise exposure to medications and other medical conditions. Because of this, every day work environments or lifestyles may be impacting our hearing even more than we realize. 

Signs and symptoms

In addition, to your baseline hearing test if you have experienced any symptoms of hearing loss, you should make an appointment with a hearing health provider to evaluate. Let’s quickly review some of these signs and symptoms you should be aware of.

  • Difficulty hearing others in crowded or noisy environments, such as restaurants
  • Difficulty understanding speech, not simply hearing it
  • Trouble with new voices and new environments
  • Isolating yourself from others due to communication issues
  • Others mentioning to you that they’ve noticed changes to your hearing

Your first appointment

You’ve done your research and made an appointment with a great audiologist nearby. Let’s go over what you can expect at this first appointment. 

Hearing Health History

As we discussed previously, there are many possible causes to hearing loss. Because of this, your audiologist will want to discuss your past occupational and medical history. A comprehensive health history will be important to understanding your hearing loss, how best to treat it, and to prevent any further hearing loss. 

Hearing Tests

In addition to different causes, there are also many ways for your hearing loss to present itself. A common myth about hearing loss is that it sounds like a reduction in volume, similar to how turning down the volume of the television or radio might sound however this is oftentimes far from reality. 

Hearing is a complex system that allows us to hear and interpret sound at different frequencies into something coherent that we understand. Hearing loss can affect those frequencies at different rates. For example, with age related hearing loss, it’s the higher frequencies that are generally lost first. This is why difficulty understanding, not hearing, is a common complaint. 

To determine the specifics of your hearing loss you will sit in a small soundproof room wearing headphones. Through the headphones, beeps of various frequencies and volumes will play in each ear separately. This is called Pure Tone Audiometry. Each beep or tone that you hear, you will press a hand held button.

The results of this test are graphed on a chart with frequency on one axis and volume on the other. Each ear is graphed separately using a different color but on the same chart for comparison purposes. This information is used to determine the degree of hearing loss you are experiencing as well as to inform treatment options. If hearing aids are recommended, they can be programmed to meet your exact needs based on this graph. 

Another test your audiologist may want to conduct is called Speech Audiometry. This test consists of listening to either recorded or live speech at low volumes to determine the lowest volume at which you can understand speech. This will likely be performed in the same sound proof room or in another quiet space to limit possible noise distractions. Furthermore, if live speech is used, your audiologist will cover their mouth to avoid any possible lip reading. 

With the results of these tests in hand, your audiologist will then discuss treatment options. Hearing aids are the most common form of hearing loss treatment. 

As you can see, your first audiologist appointment is straightforward, helpful, and necessary for adults with or without hearing loss. However if you are experiencing any symptoms of hearing loss, make an appointment us as soon as possible to get your hearing test.