You may not think you need to see an audiologist for a hearing test. However, routine checks can help to diagnoseose potential problems early and allow you to learn about your options. While most forms of hearing loss are not curable, they are managed with listening devices specifically designed for the patient's particular issues.
Who Should Have a Hearing Test?
If any of these statements apply to you, it might be a good idea for you to see an audiologist:
1. I have trouble following a speaker's presentation because I can not understand all they are saying.
2. I have a history of hearing loss in my family.
3. I am constantly asking people to repeat themselves.
4. I have trouble understanding the person next to me in a crowded room or restaurant.
5. My family complains that I have the TV or stereo too loud.
6. I frequently misunderstand what people are saying.
7. I frequently hear buzzing or ringing in one or both letters.
What Can You Expect?
The exam is simple, painless, and assesses how well you can hear sounds and words at different pitches and sound levels. While your regular doctor may check your answers for wax or other physical issues, an exam by an audiologist will actually determine how your ears are performing.
Medical History and Physical Exam
Your audiologist will talk with you about your medical history, especially if there is a history of hearing loss in your family. He or she will also ask you about your listening habits, such as working in a loud environment or if you have frequently been exposed to loud sounds. The doctor will then look inside your ears, checking for any physical signs that may be causing your issues. After the physical exam, you will have one or more audio tests.
There are many different types of exams that assess how well you hear. Some of the most common are:
Pure tone audiometry (PTA) – You will listen to sounds through headphones at various volumes and pitches. You will be asked to press a button as soon as you hear the sound, which will get higher and lower in pitch, and louder and softer in volume.
Speech perception – You will hear words spoken through speakers or a speaker and repeat the words. Sometimes you will listen to the words while there is some background noise.
Tympanometry – During this test, air is gently blown through a tube positioned at your ear opening. This helps to assess if the ear is blocked, possibly with fluid.
Whispered voice – The audiologist will block one of your ears and whisper words at varying volumes. You will repeat the words as you hear them.
Tuning fork – The tester will tap a tuning fork to make it vibrate and then hold it at different areas around your head.
Bone conduction – A vibrating probe is placed against the mastoid bone behind your ear, testing how well sounds pass through the bone.
In some cases, you may be referred for other tests to rule out a physical cause for your issues. If you are diagnosed with hearing loss, your doctor can help you determine the best course of action. If it is mild, they may just ask you to come back every few years. If it is so severe that it is impacting your daily life and there is no other physical cause, they can recommend listening aid devices that can help manage your particular problem.
A hearing test is a simple procedure that can help you be prepared for the future in the case of hearing loss. Do not leave to schedule your routine check soon!