An Accurate Comprehensive Hearing Assessment Is The First Step To Better Hearing
You probably get regular eye tests, dental checkups, schedule an annual physical, and closely monitor your cholesterol and blood pressure, but when was your last hearing test?
Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition behind arthritis and heart disease, but hearing tests continue to be far down the list of health screening priorities.
Unfortunately, hearing tests don’t usually happen until a physician or one of your loved ones insists that you have your hearing checked.
In fact, the average person waits about seven years after the first signs of hearing loss begin to show up before scheduling a hearing test, increasing the amount of damage and severity of a condition that might be easier to treat if addressed sooner.
6 Reasons People Put Off Hearing Assessments
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#1 - My hearing loss doesn’t really bother anybody.
The person most affected by your hearing loss is you. Leaving hearing loss untreated reduces your quality of life by increasing your risk of developing mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, as well as contributing to other physical health problems, like cognitive decline, vertigo and balance disorders, and a higher risk of accidents.
Unaddressed hearing challenges also tend to create relationship issues at home and at work due to communication issues and greater dependence on others to make up for your hearing deficiency. A comprehensive hearing assessment is the first step towards preventing and correcting these issues before they affect your lifestyle.
#2 - If I had a hearing problem, then I’d be the first to know.
Hearing loss comes on so gradually that it is difficult to notice day-to-day changes. Consequently, family, friends, and coworkers are likely to recognize that you’re struggling with your hearing before you do.
Their caring advice, even if it is annoying, is meant to help guide you toward making a decision that will result in better hearing health.
#3 - I’ll just turn up the volume when I can’t hear.
Volume is only one of the problems associated with hearing loss. In most cases, hearing clarity is what suffers when you begin to experience hearing loss.
Issues like an inability to sort out conversations when there is background noise, the decreased capacity to understand women and children, or the inability to distinguish between the consonant sounds th, s, and f result from reduced hearing clarity rather than volume.
#4 - Only old people suffer from hearing loss.
Though hearing loss can be due to age deterioration and a majority of individuals who struggle with their hearing are over 70, not all individuals with hearing loss are old. In reality, people of all ages experience hearing loss.
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders (NIDCD) cites a 2011-2012 CDC study that indicated that at least 10 million adults (6 percent) in the U.S. under age 70 and maybe as many as 40 million adults (24 percent) show signs of hearing loss related to exposure to loud noise.
While additional research in 2005-2006 found that about 17 percent of US teens (ages 12 to 19) also showed signs of noise-induced hearing loss when tested.
#5 - I won’t learn anything useful from a hearing test.
A hearing assessment is the only way to know the truth when it comes to whether or not you’re experiencing hearing loss. In addition to identifying your type and severity of hearing loss, hearing tests provide the necessary data to customize a treatment program that addresses your specific hearing needs.
We should also mention that the early detection of hearing loss using a comprehensive hearing assessment allows our hearing care professionals to head off or correct issues that put you at risk of developing debilitating mental, physical, and emotional conditions that lead to broken relationships and a decreased quality of life.
#6 - I’m not sure what goes on during a hearing test.
The comprehensive hearing assessments conducted by the hearing care professionals at Flex Audiology are quick, easy, and non-invasive. Also, we can provide you with the results during the same visit to our clinic.
What To Expect At A Hearing Assessment
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Our hearing assessment begins with a conversation about you. Besides enjoying the opportunity to get to know our patients, we ask questions about your occupation and lifestyle, including hobbies, special interests, and the types of leisure activities you enjoy. We’ll also ask about your medical history, any medications you’re taking, and any history of hearing problems in your family.
The purpose behind our initial conversation is to pinpoint specific activities, medical conditions, or genetic predispositions that might contribute to your hearing challenges. Since transparency is a part of the best practices of audiology, this is also a great time for you to bring up any questions or concerns related to your hearing loss as well as the hearing care we provide.
Physical Examination Of Your Ears
An otoscopy involves the use of an otoscope (a magnifying glass with a light on a tapered tip) that allows your audiologist to evaluate the outer ear canal and eardrum. During an otoscopy, we’re assessing skin conditions, earwax accumulation, the presence of other obstructions, and the structural health of the eardrum.
In some cases, the removal of earwax, a bug, or some other foreign object found during an otoscopy is all that is necessary to restore hearing. Other cases, which involve a growth or inflammation, might require medication or a simple procedure to remove the instruction and restore a temporary hearing loss.
Hearing Tests During A Hearing Assessment
Best practices for professional hearing assessments include a full series of hearing tests in order to pinpoint the exact type of hearing loss as well as its level of severity, including:
#2 - Pure Tone Audiometry And Bone Conduction Testing
In order to establish your hearing threshold, or the softest and loudest sounds you can hear, the next part of your assessment will include a pure tone audiometry. During this test, you will be fitted with a set of headphones, seated in a soundproof booth, and asked to respond whenever you hear the tones transmitted through your headphones.
This test evaluates the levels of your hearing across a range of frequencies, helping identify areas of hearing loss as well as providing data for programming hearing aids, should they be part of the hearing care treatment prescribed.
During this testing, your audiologist will also fit you with a headband called a bone conduction vibrator. This headband bypasses the hearing path and transmits sound directly to your inner ear, or cochlea, allowing us to identify permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
#3 -Word Recognition Testing
In place of tones transmitted through your headset, spoken words at various pitches and volumes are transmitted through your headphones during this test.
You will be asked to repeat whatever you hear in order to help identify how well you understand speech. During this test, your audiologist will also transmit speech with background noise to simulate a real-world environment.
This part of your assessment will allow your audiologist to determine the degree of hearing loss and how you are apt to do with amplified speech. The clarity of speech is important in determining if an individual will succeed with hearing aids.
#4 - Otoacoustic Emissions
Otoacoustic emissions, or OAEs, help evaluate the inner ear, or cochlea. This test is used to evaluate babies through adults. Your audiologist inserts a probe into the ear.
Sounds heard by the cochlea cause a vibration measured by the probe. This test identifies issues associated with how the hair cells in the cochlea transmit the sound signal to the brain.
This test requires the patient to sit still and does not require a response.
#5 -Play Audiometry For Children
When working with children between ages 2 and 5, our audiologists will use play audiometry during the hearing assessment.
Play audiometry involves games, such as placing a peg in a hole or putting a block in a bucket, every time the child is able to hear a tone or speech.
Play audiometry allows the audiologist to determine the hearing threshold of the child and the type of hearing loss, as well as provides a more comfortable atmosphere for young children during evaluation.
For children under the age of 2, there are different tests used to evaluate hearing.
#6 -Discussing Your Results
The final part of a comprehensive hearing assessment involves discussing the results of your tests and clarifying what they mean.
Our best practices include asking for your input during this process, especially when the discussion comes to the various treatment options available to address your specific type and severity of hearing loss.
For us, complete honesty and transparency are a critical part of establishing a transparent hearing care partnership designed to combine our expertise with your needs, objectives, lifestyle, and personal preferences.
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Schedule A Comprehensive Hearing Assessment
If others complain about the volume of your television, you no longer enjoy a night out or family gathering due to background noise, friends and family tell you to get your hearing checked, or you simply want to add hearing care to your healthcare checklist, then the starting point for addressing your hearing challenges is a comprehensive hearing evaluation.
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