Regardless of your age or job, you should get a hearing test if you (or a loved one) feel like you do not hear as well as you used to. There is a common joke we hear from clients, and that’s that their significant other has dragged them in to get a hearing test. Some have even threatened divorce if something isn’t done to fix the problem. So, for the sake of our client’s relationships with their loved ones and maintaining their overall health, we offer FREE hearing tests for adults.
Hearing loss can affect anyone and often progresses so gradually, and it can be difficult to notice until you experience symptoms. Hearing loss can affect much more than just your ability to hear, and it can affect your overall wellbeing. So, getting a baseline hearing test and annual follow-up tests can save you much more than just the embarrassment of straining to keep up with conversations.
At Hearing Sense, the purpose of our hearing tests is to determine not only if our clients have a hearing loss, but to diagnose how mild or severe it is. A thorough hearing test can also help define the type of hearing loss you have: conductive, sensorineural or mixed and what is the best treatment or assistive devices to help you manage your loss. Please read our blog about the three types of hearing loss.
Many of our clients who think they may have hearing loss ask us what they should expect when they come in for a hearing test. We understand that getting any medical examination can be a little daunting, so we try to make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible.
Before The Hearing Test
When you visit Hearing Sense, our first step will be to get to know your hearing health history and find out what concerns you have. There are many different causes of hearing loss, so we do this to determine if environmental factors or family history could have caused your hearing loss. Medical conditions such as allergies, head colds, ear infections and even impacted earwax can also contribute to hearing loss, so we like to be thorough with our examination. We ask about your exposure to loud noises or if you work in a noisy environment. Noise-induced hearing loss is very common, and often a side-effect of poor safety practices in the workplace. Finally, we go through the symptoms you are experiencing and how they are affecting your daily life. We like to understand your lifestyle and the types of work, hobbies and social situations that are important to you. Keep in mind that hearing loss can be exhausting (to both yourself and the people around you), so even problems like fatigue can be related to hearing loss. All these questions are conducted with the utmost professionalism, and they are designed to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Once your hearing health history is complete, the in-depth hearing test can begin.
The Hearing Test Process
Outer ear testing – Otoscopy
Often a build-up of wax or foreign objects can obstruct hearing. So, as a precaution, we always check a client’s ear canal. We look inside the ear canal using an instrument called an otoscope. We can view the ear canal to check if it is healthy, check for any wax blockages and also look at your eardrum health.
Middle Ear Testing – Tympanometry
This process tests your eardrum and middle ear health. This test is performed by blowing a small puff of air into the ear canal. This can tell us if the eardrum and middle ear bones are working well and moving normally or not. We can also use it to check for ear infections, fluid behind the ear, a hole in your eardrum or if you have Eustachian Tube troubles.
Entire Ear Testing – Pure Tone Audiometry
First, our clients enter our stylish and comfortable sound-proof booths. Well, maybe not super stylish, but they are incredibly effective and relaxing to use. Using insert earphones, our clients are played a series of beep of different pitches and volumes. We communicate with our clients through the earphones and give you detailed instructions on how to perform the test. You listen carefully and to respond even if the tone sounds very soft and you can hear it. This pure tone audiometry test measures the very faintest sounds you can hear at each frequency. We test every pitch that is important to speech understanding. This is called Air Conduction testing. We then use a Bone Conductor also to check your hearing. This process allows us to determine what part of the ear is affected and causing hearing loss. Finally, we plot the results on a graph of hearing called an audiogram which shows a normal hearing range and then varying levels of loss for each pitch of sound. The vertical axis of an audiogram represents the intensity or volume of the sounds. The horizontal axis depicts the frequency or pitch of the sound. If you would like a copy of your results, our friendly staff can arrange a document to be sent to you or directly to your physician if your hearing test was the result of a referral.
Ear and Brain Testing
We also test to see how well your brain is processing speech. We use a list of words to test which consonants and vowels that you are missing and which you can hear well. This can also help us determine whether a hearing aid may be of benefit. One of our secret weapons is that we also test our client’s ability to comprehend sentences in background noise (like at a party, or in a busy office). This is something that is rarely tested in clinics, but we believe that it is essential to see how well your brain is processing the message it receives from the ears.
After what we hope is a pleasant and straightforward experience, it’s time to look at the results and consider your hearing health as a whole.
Hearing loss is measured in decibels (dB) and the following categories:
- Normal hearing (0 to 25 dB HL)
- Mild hearing loss (26 to 40 dB HL)
- Moderate hearing loss (41 to 70 dB HL)
- Severe hearing loss (71 to 90 dB HL)
- Profound hearing loss (greater than 91 dB HL)
Depending on where you fall into one of these categories, we can discuss treatment. We look at the issues and symptoms you described at the beginning of the appointment, such as not being able to hear people clearly while speaking on the phone. We look at the slope of your loss to see which sounds and pitches of sound are most affected and look the speech test results and bone conduction results to show us where in the ear the damage is, and why this is specifically affecting your ability to hear voices clearly.
If you decide you would like to discuss possible solutions to help you hear better, our clinicians can go over the exciting and advanced hearing devices available to you.