Hearing test: signs and symptoms

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Hearing loss remains a common problem today. Millions of people suffer from this disease, which can often be treated.

Hearing tests are a great help in determining the cause of hearing loss and the appropriate treatments. When should a person see a doctor for hearing loss and what should they expect at this appointment?

Signs of hearing loss

Each person experiences different signs of hearing loss. However, any of the following symptoms should be further investigated by a doctor.

If speech or other sounds are muffled, it could be a sign that the person’s hearing is diminishing. The same is true when they have trouble carrying on a conversation in a crowded place. Some people find they can’t hear clearly when on the phone, while other people say they can’t pick up high-pitched sounds, like an alarm clock ringing in the morning.

A hearing impaired person may need to ask others to slow down and speak clearly. They often ask people to repeat what they said or to misunderstand what was said. However, sometimes hearing loss presents as an inability to distinguish certain consonants or sensitivity to particular noises. Anyone who notices a change in their hearing should schedule a hearing test.

Causes of hearing loss

Many things can cause hearing loss. A person can suffer damage to the inner ear. When this happens, the hairs and nerve cells in the ear can no longer transmit sound signals effectively. This leads to hearing loss. For example, the person may no longer be able to hear clearly in noisy environments.

Earwax buildup can also lead to hearing loss. Removing excess wax should restore hearing. When a person has an ear infection, they may not be able to hear clearly, and the same is true if they have an ear tumor or abnormal bony growths.

Additionally, a ruptured eardrum can cause hearing loss. The eardrum can rupture when exposed to loud noise or a sudden change in air pressure. An untreated ear infection or an object in the ear can also cause the eardrum to rupture and the accompanying hearing loss.

A doctor can help determine the cause of the hearing loss and the best way to treat it. This may involve removing earwax, prescribing medication to clear the infection, or recommending hearing aids to compensate for damage to the hairs and nerve cells in the ear.

Hearing tests

Often the doctor will recommend hearing tests to determine the extent of the hearing loss. Hearing tests that might be recommended include pure tone audiometry tests, speech discrimination tests, and an online hearing test.

The pure tone audiometry test has different functions and involves the patient clicking a button when hearing beeps and whistles or pure tones. If this test is done while the person is wearing headphones, the doctor checks their air conduction hearing or the external auditory pathway and the inner ear. When the test is carried out using a vibrator held against the mastoid bonethe doctor measures the sounds picked up by the internal auditory pathways.

Speech discrimination tests involve the patient repeating the words spoken to them. This determines which sounds the individual can no longer distinguish, as people often cannot hear the higher frequencies as they age.

An online hearing test is designed to determine what a person can hear when there is background noise. This test is for adults only and takes little time to complete.

Work with an audiologist or other hearing professional to determine the extent of the hearing loss and the best way to treat it. A person can usually regain full hearing if they act quickly. As hearing loss negatively impacts all areas of a person’s life, this is an appointment that should never be delayed.

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