Do you hear well? Believe it or not, the number of people who experience hearing loss is extremely high, and the saddest part is that most of them do not even know it! The first signs of hearing loss come slowly and you may think that you are experiencing some problems because you are tired or maybe because the sounds around you are too high so it is normal. Well, guess what: it is not, and if your hearing is good you should not be having any problems. That means you are qualified for a very short, painless, yet very beneficial medical procedure: a hearing assessment.
Hearing assessment is a procedure conducted by audiologists, or medical professionals specialized in diagnosing hearing problems. Common symptoms that should suggest you take a hearing test include:
- People start telling you to lower the sound of your TV;
- You can’t participate in a conversation with 2 people speaking at once;
- You get confused and disoriented when you enter noisy environments like restaurants, clubs or cafes;
- You frequently ask people to repeat themselves or you rely more on lip-reading than listening;
- You often feel like there’s a ringing noise in your ears.
Also, some medical conditions like thyroid gland problems, heart problems or diabetes that are not realted to hearing in the first place, can cause you to start losing your hearing sense. That is why , the best way to avoid all the negative and quite unpleasant consequences from hearing loss is to do a hearing assessment. There are various hearing tests your doctor can suggest you to do, and all of them are painless, easy and very helpful. From a medical perspective, hearing tests can be divided in three general groups:
- Speech reception and word recognition tests – as their names suggests, these tests are designed to test how well you can hear and catch on normal, everyday conversation. Normally, your audiologist will ask you to listen and repeat a series of words or sentences spoken on a certain degree of loudness. There is a threshold previously determined, which shows the level at which you are able to repeat half of what you heard; mainly familiar two-syllable words.
- Otoacoustic emissions testing – these tests are designed for testing hearing loss in newborn babies. The testing is simple, but it ca not show whether the baby is experiencing conductive or sensorineural hearing loss.
- Auditory Brain Stem Response testing – the ABR test is designed to detect sensorineural hearing loss. This test is conducted with a sound played to you through earphones in your ears and electrodes attached to your scalp and earlobes which monitor your brain’s response to the played sounds.
Once you visit an audiologist, if needed, he will suggest you undergo a hearing assesment and take one of the following test categories.
- Hearing tests for children – these tests are designed for children from ages 4 – 18 that experience some form of hearing problem and are manifesting it through unusual changes in their behavior: anger, sadness, frustration, exhaustion, social withdrawal and similar – all because they cannot understand what people are telling them. Mainly, children are tested for CAPD – Central Auditory Processing Disorder, a condition where the brain has a difficulty in processing the sounds it receives and cannot send a proper response signal as to what is that sound. These children have problems concentrating and following classes or other conversations that last longer.
- Pre-employment tests – people who want to work in the aviation and in industries that imply working in a highly noisy areas, police force and similar, should definitely do these tests. Think of this as a preventive measure; if you have a hearing problem and you do not know about it, exposing your ears to even more noise will only make your case worse.
- Workplace hearing tests – this is especially good for people who work in the industry of construction and manufacturing and are exposed on extremely high noises by machines and tools very day. Make sure you find a WorkSafe provider that offers complete audiology services and can test whether your hearing is well or not. Consequently, if you have problems, you will be prescribed a hearing aid which is often an obligation of your employer to cover.
- Hearing tests for adults – among other things, adults are mainly tested for tinnitus. Tinnitus is a hearing condition when you experience a high pitching ringing sound or a type of whooshing sound coming from inside the ear. This is often the first stage of hearing loss, and if you are experiencing it, there is a good chance you will have to use hearing aids.