The First Step To Better Hearing Is A
Comprehensive Hearing Assessment
About 466 million people have disabling hearing loss worldwide, and estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) expect that number to include more than 900 million by the year 2050.
In spite of these alarming statistics, most people continue to schedule regular eye exams, dental checkups, annual physicals, and closely monitor their cholesterol and blood pressure, but place a hearing test way down their list of health screening priorities, if it is included at all.
On average, individuals who have already begun to experience hearing loss wait seven years before scheduling a hearing test, increasing the amount of damage and the severity of a condition that would be easier to treat if addressed early on. During their seven-year wait, additional negative mental, physical, and psychological health conditions also develop, affecting relationships, productivity, and their quality of life.
The only way to be completely certain about whether your hearing is deteriorating is to measure it with a comprehensive hearing assessment by one of our Hearing instrument specialists at Provincial Hearing.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Assessments
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How often should I get my hearing tested?
It is best to have your hearing tested annually, especially if you are over the age of 50. This enables you and your hearing instrument specialist to establish a baseline and track any progression in your hearing loss or any changes in your hearing health.
Does someone have to come with me to my hearing test?
It is best to have someone come with you to your appointment, not to drive or assist you physically after the consultation but to help fill in information about your condition that you might not be aware of. A spouse, daughter, son, or a close friend who knows your condition and who might volunteer to do a familiar voice test is your best choice.
Who should I consult for a hearing test?
Hearing aid specialists give hearing tests, but the primary motivation behind them involves hearing aid fitting or distribution of some form of hearing technology. However, hearing instrument specialists are interested in the big picture and how hearing loss is affecting your lifestyle and overall health, making them the better choice for the most accurate, advanced testing for purposes beyond a hearing aid fitting.
When can I expect the results from my hearing test?
Your results are available immediately after the hearing assessment is finished. Only in very rare cases will your hearing instrument specialist request that you come back another time for your result, due to one reason or another.
What kind of results do I get?
After your testing, you will be given individual results for each ear in the following terms:
- Normal Range
- Slightly Below
- Substantially Below Normal
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I already wear aids. Can I still go for a hearing test?
Annual checkups for those with hearing aids are usually carried out by the hearing care provider who fits your hearing aids. However, if you are new to the area or unable to continue seeing your regular hearing care provider, then you are welcome to take advantage of a hearing assessment at Provincial Hearing.
What should I do with the results?
Discussing your results after the test is part of our best practices at Provincial Hearing. With tests that show hearing deficiencies, your Hearing Instrument Specialist will present the treatment options to specifically address your hearing challenges. When your hearing tests normal, we may discuss preventive measures or ways to help protect your ears from damage going forward.
How long does a hearing test take?
Most hearing assessments take around 30 minutes, depending on how many different sounds and tests your Hearing Instrument Specialist wants to do. In some cases, additional testing is required, which could extend the length of your assessment.
How do I prepare for a hearing test?
You don’t really need to “study up” for a hearing test, nor are there any diet restrictions or special preparations required prior to a hearing assessment. Cleaning your ears, avoiding loud noises immediately before your assessment, and rescheduling if you have a cold will help produce the best results.
What Happens During a Hearing Assessment?
A Conversation About You
We start our consultations with a conversation about you. Not because we’re nosey, but because we like to put you at ease and enjoy the opportunity to get to know you better.
Our conversation will include questions about your occupation and lifestyle, including hobbies, special interests, the types of leisure activities that you enjoy, your medical history, any medications you’re taking, and any family history related to hearing challenges.
From this conversation, we can identify how various activities, medical conditions, or genetic predispositions contribute to your hearing challenges. We follow the best practices of hearing care, which means that we also give you a chance to ask questions or express concerns related to your hearing loss and/or the hearing care services we provide.
Physical Examination Of Your Ears
The next phase of a hearing test at Provincial Hearing is a physical examination of your ears using an otoscope (a magnifying glass with a light on a tapered tip). Your hearing instrument specialist is evaluating the health of the ear canal and eardrum during this examination.
We’re also looking for any skin conditions, earwax accumulation, or the presence of other obstructions in your ear canal. In some cases, hearing restoration is as simple as removing earwax, a bug, or some other foreign object, while others involve reducing inflammation or removing a growth with a simple procedure.
Hearing Tests During a Hearing Assessment
A hearing assessment under the guidelines of the best practices of hearing care includes a full series of hearing tests designed to pinpoint the specific type of hearing loss and level of severity.
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A tympanometry is an evaluation of the middle ear. Negative pressure occurs in your ears whenever you have allergies, a cold, or fluid behind the eardrum. Like with the otoscopy, you’ll just sit still and relax while your hearing instrument specialist performs the examination, which will include a short burst of air into your ear canal.
Pure Tone Audiometry
Establishing your hearing thresholds, or the softest and loudest sounds you can hear at various frequencies, requires pure tone audiometry. For this test, your hearing instrument specialist will seat you in a soundproof booth and fit you with a set of headphones.
You’ll be asked to respond each time you hear the tones transmitted through your headphones. This test not only helps identify specific ranges of hearing loss but also provides data we use to program your hearing aids if they are necessary to help you hear better.
Word Recognition Testing
In place of tones, your hearing instrument specialist will transmit spoken words at various pitches and volumes through your headphones during word recognition testing. You will repeat or respond to whatever you hear in order to help determine how well you understand speech.
This test will include the transmission of background noise along with speech in order to simulate a real-world hearing environment. Along with determining the degree of hearing loss you’re experiencing, the test will help predict how well your ears will perform with amplified speech.
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Bone Conduction Testing
A bone conduction vibrator is a headband used for the bone conduction test. It allows your hearing instrument specialist to bypass the hearing pathway and transmit sounds directly to the inner ear, or cochlea, helping to rule out or confirm sensorineural hearing loss.
Otoacoustic emissions, or OAEs, are the vibrations that occur when sound reaches the cochlea. By placing a probe in your ear and transmitting sounds, we’re able to measure these vibrations, which tells your hearing instrument specialist how well the hair cells in the cochlea transmit sound signals to the brain.
Discussing Your Results
To wrap up your comprehensive hearing assessment, your hearing instrument specialist will present you with the results and explain what each test means. Regardless of whether your tests indicate hearing loss, your hearing instrument specialist will provide you with the various options necessary to protect or improve your hearing, such as hearing protection for work or certain activities and hobbies, changes to medications or lifestyle habits, or the need for hearing aids.
Our best practices include asking for your input during this process because, for us, the foundation of a viable hearing care partnership begins with transparency and trust.
Schedule a Comprehensive Hearing Assessment
If you’re struggling to hear conversation during a night out or family gathering due to background noise, if others are complaining about the volume of your television, or if friends and family continuously harass you about getting “your ears checked,” then the starting point for better hearing is a comprehensive hearing assessment.
Contacting us to make an appointment for a hearing assessment is simple. Just submit the adjacent form, and a member of our team will call you to assist with scheduling.
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