Your ability to hear connects you to the world around you. Your ears allow you to hear everything from a phone ringing to an ambulance siren, from your grandchild’s first words to your favorite TV show. When you start to notice hearing loss, however, you may suffer from embarrassment, frustration, and a sense of disconnection from those around you. If this is the case, now is the perfect time to schedule a hearing test.
What is a hearing test?
Simply put, a hearing test is a clinical way to measure how well your ears are functioning. After you schedule an appointment, you will meet with an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist - a trained professional who can identify and treat hearing loss.
During your visit, the professional will use specialized equipment to obtain accurate results about your ability to hear. These tests are typically conducted in sound-treated rooms with calibrated equipment. The provider is trained to inspect your ears with an otoscope, conduct hearing tests, and check for signs that you might need medical treatment for your ears. In addition, an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist can prescribe hearing aids or other solutions for your hearing loss.
How is a hearing test interpreted?
Your hearing test will be graphed on something called an audiogram, which demonstrates your hearing sensitivity for different pitches and volumes. The results of the test will guide the audiologist or hearing instrument specialist toward the right treatment for your needs. Following the test, he or she will be able to make recommendations and discuss your options with you. This could include hearing aids or other assistive devices, as well as advice on maintaining the hearing you do have to preserve your ears for years to come.
It is a good idea to bring a “significant other” to your appointment. This should be someone who communicates with you often. He or she can also listen to the recommendations from the professional and be there to ask additional questions.
And remember, you are not alone: More than 38 million Americans have some type of hearing loss. Hearing difficulties can happen gradually and go undiagnosed for months or years, but it is important to schedule a hearing test as soon as you notice difficulty hearing or understanding conversation.
Your ears allow you to listen, to learn, and to take in information, so it is important to treat them with care. Whether you suspect hearing loss or not, it is always a good idea to visit a hearing center now, before problems start, to obtain a baseline for the future.
Find a local hearing center so you can schedule a hearing test for yourself or a loved one.