Our hearing test
As we age, our hearing gradually deteriorates. This is generally through a very slow process. this age-related natural deterioration is known as presbycusis. As it is such a slow process, it may be difficult to recognise at first. Some tell-tale signs are difficulty hearing in crowded or group settings, hearing that someone is speaking but being unable to accurately distinguish what that person is saying, hearing them “muffled”, turning the television up louder, but still not making out the words and struggling with accents.
We’ll have a chat
This will cover your previous medical history, when you first noticed hearing loss & any exposure to loud sounds or environments.
Conduct a hearing test
Our Audiologists will perform a physical examination of the ears followed by a pure tone hearing test.
Discuss your Audiogram
Our Audiologists will explain the results of your Audiogram and explain if hearing loss is present.
Due to the nature of the make-up of the cochlea or inner ear (our organ of hearing), as we age, we generally begin to lose our high-frequency hearing first. Regarding speech, consonants make-up the overall clarity and as a result, the general context of speech. Consonants however are high-frequency in nature. Losing our ability to hear these consonant sounds, results in a deficiency in our ability to discriminate between those consonants, therefore a loss in the ability to precisely understand the context of a word.
During a hearing test, our audiologists will ask a variety of questions ranging from medical, to current lifestyle, previous exposure to excessive noise levels and areas of difficulty. Following this, we will look into your ears using an otoscope, this allows us to inspect for obstruction either through foreign body or wax and ensure the ear drums are looking as we would expect.
How our hearing test works
Headphones are placed over each ear, and a button given to you to press. Through the headphones you will be presented with a series of tones varying in pitch and volume. Each time a tone is heard, you press the button to indicate you have heard it. In general, pure-tone audiometry is used to ascertain your level of hearing or “thresholds”. Sometimes however with tinnitus sufferers, pure-tone audiometry is not an accurate test as pure tones can often match the pitch of tinnitus, in which case a different type of sound called a warble tone is presented.
The results whether using pure or warble tone will be the same, the warble just makes it much easier for certain tinnitus sufferers to be confident they are correctly responding and not responding to their tinnitus. The initial test using the headphones is known as air conduction testing and tests if there is a hearing loss there by testing the entire ear (outer, middle and inner) working together as one unit.
If a hearing loss is detected, we then need to establish if it is outer, middle or inner ear hearing loss. Using a headband which sits on the mastoid bone behind one of your ears (usually the worse of the two), we by-pass the outer and middle ear and isolate and test the function of the inner ear by itself, this is done through a process known as bone conduction. Should your air conduction and bone conduction match, this is known as sensorineural hearing loss or presbycusis.
If there is a discrepancy between the two, I.E a gap between the readings, we need to do further testing known as masking which essentially distracts one ear allowing us to obtain true readings for the other and vice versa.
If there is a hearing loss in the outer or middle ear and the inner function is normal, this is known as a conductive hearing loss. If there is a combination of either outer or middle and inner ear hearing loss, this is known as a mixed hearing loss.
Understanding your audiogram
Our audiologists explain the results of the test, in graph form, called an audiogram. An audiogram shows the quietest sounds heard at a variety of frequencies and is broken up into levels of loss from no loss, mild, moderate, severe and profound. Your hearing loss will be explained to you in terms of severity and also which of the three types of loss you have.
Most of the time, the loss we find is normal, general, wear and tear hearing loss. Sometimes however we may need to refer onward to a GP or ENT consultant for further investigation. Combining the results of the test along with the persons areas of difficulty, lifestyle, medical history and sometimes size and shape of canals, we can choose the best hearing aid that suits your lifestyle.
As hearing is a very subjective sense, two people may have the exact same hearing loss but due to totally different lifestyles, have completely differing perceptions to their loss.
We realise everyone is different, only by ensuring we ask these questions during the consultation can we be confident we will make a decision that is right and tailored for you and your needs.