The Need-to-know about a Hearing Test

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Hearing loss is a condition associated with an inability to hear clearly in either one or both ears. It is known to affect all ages, though the senior citizens are the most affected. Taking a hearing test is important to rule out hearing loss as a cause of detrimental effects that are associated with it such as:

  • Delay in speech development in your baby.
  • Social withdrawal of your child from their peers.
  • Poor performance in classes especially relating to dictation or oral tests that may lead to low self-esteem in your child.
  • Breakdown of relationships in the senior citizens who are your kins. Hearing loss may trigger depression and depression affective disorders.

What causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss is may be caused by factors such as

  • Prolonged exposure to loud noises
  • Certain ototoxic medications such as aminoglycosides for infections, platinum-containing medications for managing cancers, and high dose salicylates.
  • Hereditary. Hearing loss can be a consequence of genetic mutation, especially on the GJB2 gene.
  • Infections such as meningitis, Lyme disease, and mumps
  • Old age. Hearing loss is the third most prevalent condition after cardiovascular disease and arthritis in senior citizens. There are hearing aid discounts for war veterans.
  • Trauma especially where the head is involved.

It is worth noting that these factors may happen cause hearing loss whether in isolation or combination.

Who needs a hearing test?

Whether knowingly or unknowingly, you might have had exposure to one of the risk factors of hearing loss. Consequently, a baseline hearing test is recommended for all adults above 21 years to determine where their hearing is at the time of the test. You urgently need a hearing test if:

  • People appear to you as if they are mumbling when talking to you
  • You have to turn up the sound of television or radio to hear properly
  • You have trouble having a conversation in a busy area like out in the streets.
  • Somebody has mentioned to you that you do not hear properly.
  • You are having trouble hearing the alarms, doorbells, or your phone ringing.
  • Twisting your body or neck to hear.

Why get a hearing test?

A baseline hearing test is advisable even for people who are not experiencing any symptoms of hearing loss. In all ages, a hearing test is known to confer benefits such as:

Diagnosis of medical conditions:- Hearing loss is a symptom associated with certain diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Therefore, getting a hearing test can render an early and crucial diagnosis and management of these conditions.

Prevention of any further damage:- A hearing test is indispensable in starting treatment of hearing loss and prevention of any further deterioration. Knowledge of your hearing loss will help you avoid risk factors that may worsen your hearing such as prolonged exposure to noise and ototoxic medications by informing your doctor or pharmacists.

Improved quality of life:- Hearing loss is associated with social withdrawal and decreased energy after a conversation, not to mention depression and breakdown of relationships because the other person might think you are snubbing them. Therefore, a hearing test will lead to starting of treatment and improved quality of life.

Improved cognitive abilities:- Hearing loss treatment has been associated with decreased risk of cognitive decline and delayed diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, young children with an undiagnosed hearing problems will lag behind their peers in social intelligence and academics.

How a hearing test is done?

A hearing test examines your ability to listen to a voice or sound played and also distinguishing a specific voice from noises. It is an easy procedure. Online hearing tests are available on many websites. However, you should not use them for diagnosis without a visit to a qualified audiologist.

Before undertaking a hearing test, your age, gender, and the room’s sound setting are significant. The test is painless and is carried out in a soundproof room to prevent disturbances in hearing due to background noise.

One such online hearing test procedure involves:

  • You will be required to wear your earphones or headphones in one ear and listen to short tunes which are played with varying volume levels, tones, and pitches.
  • The procedure is repeated on the other ear
  • You may be asked to listen to a speech at different volumes and pitches played in your earphones and asked to repeat what you have heard.
  • You will be asked questions on your hearing abilities in noisy environments for instance in a busy street.
  • You will be required to give your email address to get your results.

Interpretation of the results

Hearing loss is defined in terms of decibels. A decibel is a unit used to determine the loudness of a sound. The ability to hear only at higher decibels signifies a severe hearing loss. In contrast, the ability to hear even at low decibels shows a mild or no hearing loss. The specific outline with regards to hearing loss are:

The severity of hearing loss Measurement in decibels
Mild 25-40
Moderate 41-55
Moderate to severe 56-70
Severe 71-90

The results need to be confirmed by a subsequent visit to an audiologist for them to warrant a diagnosis.

Conclusion

Knowledge of your hearing by undergoing a hearing test is essential in improving your quality of life. This is through treatment options such as:

  • cochlear implants.
  • Use of hearing aids suited to meet your hearing demands.
  • Surgical procedures.

References
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/genetics.