Hearing is one of our five major senses, but we often take for granted until there is a noticeable problem. Because hearing loss often develops gradually and may take years to worsen, by the time we are aware of an issue, it may be too late to take corrective action. For this reason, doctors recommend regular hearing testing regardless of your overall health.
While hearing loss is a normal part of the aging process to a certain extent, there are additional factors that can also cause impairment. Noise exposure, chronic ear infections, impacted earwax, even certain medications can all lead to at least a temporary loss of hearing. Left unchecked, hearing loss can lead to anger, depression, and social isolation, not to mention a worsening of your condition. Routine hearing exams can help pinpoint problems early, and are the key to successful treatment.
What Does a Hearing Test Involve?
A hearing test will assess the sensitivity of your hearing. It can detect the type and extent of your hearing loss, and will give your audiologist a direction to pursue in terms of treatment.
Your audiologist will go over your medical history with you, and ask specific questions about your hearing. He/she will examine your ears with an otoscope, and then choose from a variety of tests to measure your degree of hearing loss.
Types of Hearing Tests
Hearing testing can involve one or several different tests, including:
- Audiometer test. An audiometer emits tones at different frequencies and volumes in each ear, and measures your hearing sensitivity at different levels. The results are plotted on an audiogram for review.
- Bone conduction test. Vibrating tuning forks are placed behind each ear to measure whether your hearing loss is conductive (originating in the outer or middle ear) or sensorineural (coming from the inner ear) in nature. This helps narrow down treatment possibilities.
- Tympanogram. Tests eardrum functioning.
- Acoustic Reflex Test. Measures muscle contractions in the ear.
The types of hearing tests you receive are dependent upon your unique situation and your audiologist’s recommendation.
Hearing aids are a godsend to millions of Americans with hearing loss. They can restore the ability to communicate, and prevent anger, depression and social isolation from creeping in. Today’s digital devices are smaller than ever, and packed with features and options unavailable just a few years ago. Choosing the right hearing aid can be a challenging task, and is dependent upon a number of different factors including your type and degree of hearing loss, cosmetic preferences, and lifestyle.