Comprehensive Hearing Assessments
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A Comprehensive Hearing Assessment Is Your First Step on The Journey to Better Hearing
Most people regularly have their eyes, teeth, and blood tested but rarely do they include a hearing test in their health screening regimen.
Hearing test hesitancy is surprising given that hearing loss is the third most common physical health condition in America, impacting globally 1 in 8 individuals. As the World Health Organization predicts a doubling of hearing loss cases over the next 30 years, regular hearing assessments become a critical part of monitoring your health.
The gradual onset of hearing loss makes day-to-day changes difficult to recognize, which means that loved ones are likely to notice a hearing challenge before we do. Early detection of hearing loss allows for preventive measures to be taken and improves the success of treatment.
Who Is At Risk For Hearing Loss?
Ageing (Age deterioration) is among the leading causes of hearing loss, but hearing loss can affect individuals of any age due to various factors such as:
- Birth defects
- Ongoing exposure to loud noise (work, music in your headphones)
- Head injuries
- Various types of illnesses and diseases
- Ototoxic medications.
Regardless of age or cause, regular hearing assessments identify the type and severity of your hearing issues, which allows your audiologist to develop a treatment plan that fits your unique needs.
Collateral Effects of Hearing Loss
Over the past decades’ research in the field of hearing has discovered other, seemingly not directly related physical and mental health-related consequences to untreated hearing loss.
Individuals who reported moderate-to-severe hearing difficulties had poorer cognitive performances overall, particularly in the domains of Attention/Processing Speed and Visuospatial Ability. They also had a 1.5 times greater risk for cognition or dementia at the 6 years’ follow up ( published in Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition used data from 1,037 Australian men and women aged 70-90 years enrolled in CHeBA’s Sydney Memory & Ageing Study from 2005-2017) also 2020 ‘Lancet’ Commission Report Finds Untreated Hearing Loss in Midlife as ‘Largest Modifiable Risk Factor’.
Another significant large study has implicated a clear association between untreated hearing loss and an increased risk of dementia, depression, falls, and even cardiovascular diseases. In a significant number of people, the studies indicate, uncorrected hearing loss itself appears to be the cause of the associated health problem (Dr. Lin, reported in November in JAMA Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery).
Regarding linking cardiovascular issues to hearing loss. Dr. Deal, a gerontologist from John Hopkins said she and her co-authors were surprised to find a link between poor hearing and cardiovascular disease. “It could be that vascular disease is common to both,” she said but added that social isolation and stress resulting from hearing loss are also likely to play a role.
Other health-related links to hearing loss such as gastronomic and altering of mental health were also reported.
What Happens During Your Hearing Assessment?
Quick, non-invasive, and simple, a hearing assessment is your first step on the journey to better hearing. There are four main parts included in a hearing assessment.
An Initial Conversation About You
Along with having a genuine interest in our patients as individuals, our initial conversation will address any concerns or questions you might have about hearing loss, including any early signs you experienced prior to your visit such as difficulty communicating with others, a ringing sound in your ears, a feeling of stuffiness or fullness in your ears, and other issues.
We will ask some questions about your medical history, medications you are taking, work and social activities in which you participate, and any experience with hearing loss in your family, any previous or existing balance-related issues, and if you are experiencing tolerating any environmental sounds.
A Physical Examination of Your Ears
Next, your audiologist will physically examine your ears to look for damage to the structures of the ear or blockages in the ear canal. Many patients who are experiencing hearing challenges discover that their condition is not permanent but caused by inflammation or a growth in the ear canal as well as a bug, earwax, or a bit of fluff, which are easily corrected resolving your hearing difficulties.
Typical hearing tests include presenting a series of tones and speech tests that measure your ability to understand words in quiet and in noise, which includes seating you in a soundproof booth with headphones over your ears. Your audiologist will measure your response to the tones or spoken words at different frequencies (pitches) and volume levels to establish what you can and cannot hear.
We will also carry out a bone conduction test, which uses a different type of headset to bypass the conductive structures of the hearing pathway and stimulate a response in the inner ear. This test helps determine whether your hearing loss is conductive (middle ear-related) or sensorineural (inner ear-related).
To measure how the structures of the middle ear and the eardrum respond to sound, your audiologist may also conduct a tympanometry test. The results from this test will identify hearing loss associated with damage to these components.
Additional tests that might be used in order to further pinpoint the source and severity of your hearing loss may be called for in some cases.
A Review of Your Results
Many healthcare tests require patients to wait a few days for results to come back from the lab. However, our results are available as soon as we finish your hearing test, allowing us to review the results during the same office visit.
Because we believe in educating our patients rather than just ordering a treatment, your audiologist will place your printed test results in front of you and explain what your results mean.
If treatment is necessary, your audiologist will discuss the various options, which may include prescription hearing aids, surgical procedures, changes to medication and ototoxic medication monitoring, tinnitus management, or various other options.
If treatment is not necessary, we will discuss various lifestyle changes to prevent damage to your hearing, including destructive habits, medications, the use of ear protection at work or during certain activities, and other preventive measures.
The Importance of Scheduling a Hearing Assessment
Because it is the beginning of identifying the type and severity of hearing loss in order to customize a plan of treatment or preventive measures, scheduling a hearing assessment is a critical step in receiving better hearing care.
Even when a measurable hearing loss is not detected during a hearing assessment, the results establish a baseline against which future deterioration can be measured.
To ensure your hearing health, do not delay having a hearing test. Take the first step on the journey to better hearing and a healthier life by scheduling a hearing assessment today.