Over 1 million Canadians aged 18-45 and one third of Canadians over 65 have enough hearing loss to interfere with communication. Usually, hearing loss occurs gradually and may go unnoticed for many years. Even if you are not noticing a hearing loss, a hearing test is a good way to get a baseline of how you are hearing now for future comparison. A hearing test is easy and painless.
Are you wondering if you have hearing loss?
- Do you often ask for repetition?
- Do people seem like they are mumbling these days?
- Do you have trouble understanding women’s or children’s voices?
- Do you have difficulty hearing over the phone?
- Do you struggle to hear in noisy environments, meetings, or group get-togethers?
- Do others comment that you turn the television up too loud?
Bring a Loved One
The most important thing we use our hearing for is communication, and communication is a two person (or more!) activity. We encourage you to bring someone with you to your appointment. It is not uncommon for a friend or family member to notice things that you miss when it comes to your hearing loss. They may also be helpful in identifying what listening situations are more or less difficult for you. If they are a frequent communication partner, it may be just as important for them to understand your hearing loss as it is for you to understand it. Untreated hearing loss can frequently cause misunderstanding or frustration in interpersonal relationships. Finally, if you do have a hearing loss there is a lot of new information to learn! Having someone with you can help.
What Happens at a Hearing Test?
First, your Audiologist will ask questions about your general health and hearing history. They will take a good look in your ears to see if there are any obstructions in your ear canal that might affect your hearing. If you wish, you can also have a look in your own ear canals displayed on-screen with our electronic otoscope.
A basic hearing test involves tympanometry, pure tone air conduction audiometry, and speech testing. At our clinic, we run additional tests depending on whether or not it is your first assessment, what your hearing complaints are, or what other measures show us. These other tests include, but are not limited to: acoustic reflex and/or decay testing, pure-tone bone-conduction audiometry, masked air and bone audiometry, electronic otoscopy (see your ear canal on a colour tv!), otoacoustic emissions, auditory brainstem response or various speech-in-noise tests.
Tympanometry involves testing the motion of the eardrum under pressure in response to a probe tone. Rubber tips will be placed in your ears and you may hear some humming. If this is followed by acoustic reflex testing, you will also hear some loud beeps.
Pure-Tone Air Conduction Audiometry
Pure-tone air conduction audiometry tests your hearing sensitivity across frequencies. It requires you to sit in a special sound-proof booth while wearing foam earbuds connected to a specially calibrated audiometer. Your Audiologist will use the audiometer to play tones of various pitch and loudness. You will indicate, by pressing a button or raising your hand, when you hear a sound (even if it is very quiet). Bone conduction audiometry is done in the same way, but uses a special headset that allows your Audiologist to test the sensitivity of your inner ear directly.
Speech testing is similar to pure-tone testing but you will be asked to repeat lists of words. These words will range from very quiet to very loud. Speech-in-noise tests may include various background noises.
Once your hearing test is completed, your Audiologist will sit with you and review the results.
What if I have Hearing Loss?
If your test reveals hearing loss, your Audiologist will advise you on what kind of assistance is available. If you and your Audiologist decide that hearing aids could help you, your audiologist will guide you through the different styles, brands and technologies available.
While many people know at least a little bit about hearing aids, your Audiologist may also recommend other assistive listening devices such as amplify ed telephones or television systems, remote microphones or FM systems for hearing in noise, and flashing alert systems or vibrating alarm clocks (see our display at the clinic).