Understanding Hearing Exams

Understanding Hearing Exams

Hearing Loss Can Happen to Anyone

Hearing loss comes on so gradually over such an extended period of time that it is most often quite literally imperceptible to the person experiencing it. Because of this, many people who live with hearing loss fail to even recognize that they are doing so. This is a large part of the reason why it is impossible to know exactly how many people in the U.S. live with hearing loss, but years of studies have determined that the best guess is somewhere up to about 14% of everyone in the U.S. aged 18 or over lives with some detectable degree of hearing loss. 

To put this in perspective, the average wedding party is 100 people. Picture this. And now consider that of this group, 14 of them have hearing loss. This comes out to upwards of 45 million Americans. 

Yes, You Should Get A Hearing Exam  

Sadly, the vast majority of these people who live with hearing loss do so without seeking and maintaining proper treatment. In fact, research shows that as much as 80% of everyone with hearing loss does not seek treatment. This is an astonishing and tragic statistic, but there are all kinds of reasons that explain it. People are likely to minimize, if not outright deny, that it is happening. 

Left untreated, hearing loss will cause major damage to every aspect of your life, from your emotional and psychological health to your relationships and career opportunities. This is why it is essential for everyone to keep up with regular hearing exams, same as they get annual checkups, eye exams, and dental checkups. 

There is no other way of ascertaining the objective data on where exactly your hearing health stands. And there is no greater way of mitigating the effects of hearing loss than catching it as early as possible, before its damage accrues. 

You should get a hearing exam immediately if you are: over 60 years old; if you work in a potentially risky industry such as construction, agriculture, manufacturing, or live entertainment; or if you suspect for any reason that you may have trouble hearing. 

What Will Happen at My Hearing Exam

When you arrive, the first thing you will do is answer a questionnaire to catch any red flags in your family, medical or personal histories.

The specialist will then inquire about how exactly you are feeling, looking for any symptoms that you may not even think to relate to your hearing health. 

The exam itself will then be performed in a near-silent room that is specially treated to block out any background noise that may throw off the results. You will put on headphones connected to an audiometer, the instrument that conducts the exam. 

The exam starts with pure-tone audiometry. You listen for tones at different pitches and volumes, answering questions about what exactly you are hearing. This identifies the faintest volumes at which you can hear specific frequencies. 

Next is speech audiometry. Here you listen to recorded speech and are asked to repeat phrases to identify the faintest volumes at which you can make out speech. This test frequently leads into similar tests that add distracting background noise to assess your real-world abilities. 

Lastly, to help determine the treatment option best for you and your specific needs, a tympanometry will then be done to measure the reflexes of your eardrum and middle ear. And you will be tested for “hidden” hearing loss, which refers to hearing loss that is not happening in your ear, but in your brain. 

Comprehending The Results

Your results will be shown to you on an audiogram, a graph that charts your hearing across the spectrum of frequencies. Each of your ears will have its own results, which may or may not be similar to each other. 

Hearing loss is categorized as such

—0-25 bB HL (hearing loss) = normal

—26-40 dB HL = mild

—41-70 dB HL = moderate

—71-90 dB HL = severe

—More than 91 dB HL = profound

Now Take Appropriate Action

With your objective data and its analysis that only an exam by a specialist can provide, you are now prepared to make an informed decision about your next steps. Advancements in the technology of hearing aids have evolved so significantly that even the simplest contemporary hearing aids are more effective than the best hearing aids of the past. Our specialist will help guide you to find the perfect option for your needs, your lifestyle and budget.