Why is a Hearing Test Important?
Experiencing symptoms of hearing loss for the first time can be stressful. However, your audiologist is there to help you and monitor your hearing health. Your audiologist will provide a hearing test that allows you to not only check your hearing but also measure precisely the level of hearing loss you experience.
When you have never had a hearing test before, it can be overwhelming at first to understand what to do and how to best prepare for the test. Thankfully, audiometry tests are straightforward and pain-free, so there’s no reason to feel nervous about it.
You may not be comfortable at the idea that you can’t prepare ahead for the test. But, when it comes to hearing tests, your audiologist does all the hard work while you only need to listen. If you have been trying to postpone a hearing test for a long time, here is what happens during such a test and why it matters to your health.
Hearing loss is a natural process
First of all, hearing loss happens to most people in old age as the tiny hair inside your ear can get damaged through the aging process. While they can encounter damage through a variety of other factors, including head injuries and exposure to loud noises, aging is also likely to affect your hearing. When the tiny hair inside the inner ear and the cochlear nerve are affected, your audiologist will talk about sensorineural hearing loss. Making sure you monitor your hearing health requires taking a hearing test regularly, especially for seniors and people who are routinely exposed to loud sounds.
A hearing test can not only identify issues as they begin to develop, but it can also ensure you receive the support you need. If you never take a hearing test, you can’t track and maintain your hearing health effectively. You also put yourself at risk of isolation if your hearing loss goes unnoticed and uncorrected for too long.
The hearing test lets you know how much correction is needed
There are different levels of hearing loss, which can be measured through a hearing test. As a rule of thumb, the typical audiometric test will first define the quietest sound that you can hear. For comparison purposes, hearing loss is monitored by the loudness in decibels (dB) of the least audible sound that an individual can hear:
- People with normal hearing can hear sounds less than 25 dB
- People with mild hearing loss experience 25-40 dB
- Moderate hearing loss: the quietest sound is at 41-65 dB
- Severe hearing loss: Anything between 66 and 90 dB
- Profound hearing loss: you can’t hear a sound below 90 dB
This hearing test is called a pure tone audiometric test. Sounds are also measured in frequencies, such as low bass tones and high-pitches range. The result appears as an audiogram, which highlights frequencies and loudness for each ear and each patient.
But your audiologist can also run a different hearing test called speech discrimination test. This is designed to figure out whether you can follow a conversation without getting confused by background noise. It measures the ability of the ears and brain to recognize words from random noise.
An audiometric hearing test and a speech discrimination hearing test can both be useful to define not only if you need hearing aids, but also what kind of hearing aids are best suited to provide the right correction.
The hearing test defines the type of hearing loss you have
As mentioned earlier, there are different types of hearing loss. A sensorineural hearing loss refers to damages to the nerves and cochlea, while a conductive hearing loss is the result of damage to the eardrum or the ossicle bones.
During the hearing test, your audiologist will evaluate the kind of damage you have experienced. There is a third hearing test, called the tympanometry, which helps to identify problems in the ear, such as ossicle damage, perforated eardrum, or something less severe such as wax buildup. Your audiologist will typically start with this hearing test before moving on to further tests if necessary.
The hearing test can also highlight health conditions
Hearing loss can happen in a variety of ways. When it is a naturally occurring process, it can be a slow progression, which only gets noticed when the individual experiences mild to moderate hearing loss. However, when hearing loss is a sudden phenomenon, a hearing test can help to detect an underlying cause. Rapid degradation of your hearing health is a symptom that your health is at risk.
For more information about audiometry tests or to book your next hearing test, don’t hesitate to call our team at the Audiology and Hearing Aid Center at 920-969-1768.