Hearing loss varies in severity and can lead to severe challenges during communication. People of all ages can experience hearing loss, but it is more prevalent in older people. It leads to profound psychological, social and educational problems; that's why it is necessary to have hearing tests done regularly by an audiologist. Hearing tests are painless, noninvasive and measure your ability to hear varying frequencies, sounds and pitches.

Booking a hearing test

If you suspect that you are experiencing hearing loss, the next step is booking a hearing test with an audiologist. You will notice warning signs of hearing loss when you have to ask people to repeat themselves during a conversation or slowly increasing the television volume daily.

You begin reading people's lips and experiencing headaches after lengthy conversations. Since hearing loss is gradual, you may not realize that you're experiencing it until it becomes severe or someone points it out. The hearing tests enable your audiologist to determine the level of severity and how to find the best solutions for you.

Queries by the audiologist

When you visit your audiologist, you will fill some forms and provide details on personal information and medical history. Audiologists ensure they are thorough with their queries because hearing loss occurs due to many reasons, including the following:

  • Ear illnesses and infections
  • Earwax buildup
  • Being in noisy gatherings often and staying near loudspeakers
  • Using power tools regularly, for example, drills and hammers
  • Noisy workplaces such as construction sites and manufacturing industries where there is loud machinery.

When giving your medical history, ensure you provide the audiologist with helpful information to determine the cause of hearing loss and the best hearing tests to undergo. This information could be about genetic disorders, previous head injuries, allergies and infections.

Your audiologist will also ask questions about your current lifestyle. It will help them determine if your workplace environment is too abrasive and advise on changes to make.

Visual examination

Before conducting hearing tests, your audiologist will use an otoscope to take a look into your ears. The device is minimally invasive and allows the audiologist to see your ear canal by zooming in and using light to establish potential issues. Some of the problems are a buildup of earwax or infection.

Hearing tests

The sole purpose of booking an appointment is to have a series of hearing tests conducted by the audiologist. Hearing tests are of two types: audiometric and middle or outer ear tests. They include:

  • Pure-tone audiometry: This involves listening to different tones of volumes and pitches and takes place in a sound-treated room. The test requires you to listen carefully and focus on instructions given to you through headphones.
  • Speech audiometry: This is a component of hearing tests that involve live or recorded speech in a quiet room, instead of pure tones. Your audiologist will ask you to repeat the words to determine your level of accuracy in understanding them.
  • Speech perception in noise (SPIN): If you complain about experiencing hearing loss whenever you’re in a noisy environment, you will take speech in noise tests, connected speech tests or hearing in noise tests. These take place in settings that aren’t sound-treated. The audiologist will ask you to listen and repeat words said during increasingly noisy soundtracks that mimic the real world.
  • Tympanometry: This evaluates your acoustic reflexes by placing a soft plug in your ear that generates sound and creates pressure. This way, your audiologist can determine the movement and measure the responses of your eardrum and muscles.
  • Detecting hidden hearing loss: An audiologist performs standard hearing tests to determine if you have hidden hearing loss. Hidden hearing loss originates from your brain and may not be detected during other hearing tests.

Diagnosis and treatment

As you undergo the hearing tests, your audiologist takes down notes and your results are displayed on an audiogram. From these results, the audiologist diagnoses you by determining the degree and kind of hearing loss. If the audiologist diagnoses you with hearing loss, they will recommend the best treatment, hearing aids and advice.

Depending on your results, the audiologist will work with you to get proper hearing aid devices such as behind the ear (BTE), in the ear (ITE) or in the canal (ITC) that work for your budget, lifestyle and preference. Most of these hearing aids offer multiple features such as microphones and noise reduction.

Bottom line

If you notice that you're experiencing hearing loss or one of your friends points it out, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with an audiologist. Be open about your personal information and medical history to enable the audiologist to determine causes and the best way to go forward. When you go through a series of tests, your audiologist diagnoses and establishes if you need to use hearing aids and those that suit you.

Learn more about Brentwood Hearing Center or contact us at 615-377-0420 to book an appointment with an audiologist.