Posted January 28, 2011
Ignoring hearing loss and hoping it will go away is a common initial reaction for many individuals. Hearing loss can happen to anyone at any age. Instead of making adjustments to adapt to a hearing problem – turning up the volume of the TV, asking people to speak louder or avoiding loud situations – individuals should consult with their doctor to have the problem evaluated.
Sometimes hearing impairment is related to a medical concern, such as an infection, buildup of earwax, disease, or a tumor. It also may be caused by aging or an injury. If permanent hearing loss has occurred, a referral to a hearing specialist may be the next step.
An evaluation by a hearing specialist will involve seven steps:
- Tympanometry – objective test of middle-ear function to identify if hearing loss is conductive (difficulty in passing sound waves through the ear) or sensorineural (nerve damage)
- Pure-tone test – identifies hearing threshold levels; determines the softest level of tones that can be heard
- Speech reception threshold – determines the lowest sound intensity and the level at which sound can be detected and speech is understood
- Most comfortable hearing level test – identifies the best hearing level
- Uncomfortable loudness test – recognizes the loudest level that can be heard without pain
- Speech discrimination test – evaluates how well sound is heard and speech is understood; determines the most comfortable listening level
- Bone conduction test – determines if hearing loss is related to the inner ear
The hearing specialist will evaluate results and determine the type and level of hearing impairment, as well as solutions to enhance hearing. If a hearing aid is the best solution, the specialist will identify options and custom program the hearing aid to fit the patient’s lifestyle and provide the best hearing improvement.
For more information on hearing aids, review this blog post.
If you have a hearing aid, what style did you select and how has it worked for you? What advice would you offer to others in adapting to hearing impairment? – Karen Gustin, Ameritas Group