How do you know for sure if you have a hearing loss? With the gradual rate at which hearing loss typically develops, it can sometimes be hard to tell.
The following hearing self-assessment can help you consider the degree of difficulty you are experiencing with your hearing and whether or not you might need a more complete hearing exam conducted by a trained professional. The questions below have been adapted from a self-assessment tool created by the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Please take the time to think about each question, and find out if you should seek further help for your hearing.
When To Get A Hearing Test
Most hearing loss develops gradually, so the signs are difficult to detect. Ask yourself these questions to evaluate how you are hearing:
If you answered YES to two or more of these questions, you may want to schedule a hearing test by a doctor of audiology. Through testing, an audiologist can tell you whether you have a hearing loss as well as its nature and extent. If a hearing loss is detected, an appropriate course of action will be recommended.
Do You Need A Hearing Test?
Your hearing is a precious gift – one you need to take care of or run the risk of losing. An important part of hearing care is having your hearing checked periodically. There are several levels of hearing evaluation, from a basic hearing test to more complex diagnostic tests for specific problems.
Basic Hearing Testing
A basic hearing test is performed in a quiet area (preferably a Sound Booth) with an audiometer, a device that produces various pitch sounds (frequencies) at different levels (intensities). The person responds to the sounds by either raising his/her hand or pushing a button. Results are then charted on an audiogram, which gives the audiologist an indication of whether hearing is within normal limits or if a problem may exist. If a hearing loss is detected, more testing can be performed to better define the nature and extent and possible cause of the hearing loss. Each test evaluates a different part of the ear.
Additional diagnostic testing
- Tympanogram – tests the eardrum and the integrity of the middle ear (the area behind the eardrum).
- Acoustic reflexes – measures the muscle contraction and movement of the tiny bones behind the eardrum.
- Otoacoustic emission (OAE) – checks the function of the tiny little “hair cells” in the inner ear.
- Speech testing – evaluates the effect of the hearing loss on understanding speech; sometimes this is performed in both a quiet and noisy background, using live or recorded voice.
- Ear canal assessment – assesses ear canal size, curvature of the ear canal, health of the eardrum and monitors ear wax or foreign object obstructions.
- Audiometric testing – assesses the hearing ability of each ear for a wide range of frequencies from deep bass sounds to mid-range and high pitched tones. This test will determine the degree of hearing loss in each ear as well as where the breakdown in the hearing system is occurring, thus causing the hearing loss.
- Eustachian tube function testing – middle ear system test determines whether the Eustachian tube is functioning correctly to equalize pressure and ventilate as necessary.
- Tinnitus assessment – discerns the severity of tinnitus as well as pitch level and nature of tinnitus through objective and subjective measurements.
- Ear wax assessment – leads to removal of prominent ear wax that is obstructing the canal or hearing aid function using air suction and manual removals.