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:
1. Do people seem to mumble or speak in a softer voice more than they use to?
2. Do you feel tired or irritable after a long conversation?
3. Do you sometimes miss key words in a sentence?
4. Do you frequently need to ask people to repeat themselves?
5. Do you have difficulty understanding the conversation in a crowded room?
6. Do you often turn the volume up on the TV or radio?
7. Does background noise bother you?
8. Is it sometimes hard to hear the conversation on the telephone?
9. Do you sometimes not hear the doorbell or telephone ring?
10. Are your family or friends complaining about your 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 middle ear (the space behind the eardrum).
Acoustic reflexes – measures the 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.
Auditory Evoked Potentials (ABR) – checks the acoustic nerve function up to and into the first part of the brain (Pons)
Electronystagmography (ENG) – evaluates the part of the inner ear controlling balance. Usually performed on individuals who experience dizziness or balance problem.
Auditory Processing Testing (APD/CAPD) – evaluates how the brain perceives or understands what the ear sends. Many times, this test is recommended for children who experience attention or learning problems, or