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Hearing exams for hearing loss in noise

Now that you've taken the pledge on our site, it's time to learn about the different hearing tests!

To determine the best type of hearing aids to suit your needs, your audiologist will go through several tests with you to determine the level of hearing loss, patterns and more. While many hearing exams simply involve picking noises out of silence, another might ask you to pull a particular string of words out of background noise. Since it is rare that we are put in a situation with no background noise, these exams help a professional to understand the issues that you go through on a daily basis.

hearing tests, hearing pledge, headphonesWhy hearing-in-noise exams are conducted

To ensure you're getting proper hearing loss treatment, a hearing healthcare professional may conduct an exam with background noise. Since this is one of the most common complaints for individuals who suffer from hearing loss or have trouble hearing in certain situations, people of all ages regularly get these exams.

These test results might alert your hearing professional if you need directional microphones, strong noise reduction programming or extra signal processing to manage background noise. Researchers have determined that if an audiologist can conclude how an individual will tolerate a speech signal in background noise. they will be aware of how an individual will react to using a hearing aid.

Fundamentals of hearing in noise exams

There are various forms and severities of hearing loss that can generally be categorized into loss of audibility and loss of clarity. Loss of audibility is directly related to the damage of outer hair cells, and loss of clarity is attributed to the damage of inner hair cells or the central auditory nervous system. Since audiologists cannot get a true measure of hearing loss based on tones, frequency and word recognition, these types of exams are used to put patients in a real-world situation to determine how they hear on a daily basis.

During an exam, the background noise may be adjusted to reflect your tolerance of the sound. You may be asked to adjust the level so that you are unable to understand speech as well as adjust it to a level that is soft enough that you are able to hear the intended speech. This gives a hearing healthcare professional an idea of the range in which you are most comfortable.

What to expect

Scores depend on the words that are repeated correctly and incorrectly. At the end of a test, a hearing professional may be able to generate a signal-to-noise ratio, which is the result of the loudness that was required of the sentences so you could hear them correctly. To get a sentence correct, you must repeat every word that was stated. These types of exams often take only a few minutes. It's unlikely that you'll be able to decipher every speech signal, so don't be discouraged in the event you struggle to get each one correct.

Who will take these exams?

This test is often performed when fitting an individual with a hearing aid to help determine what features might be needed. If you report persistent difficulty understanding regular conversations in public places or with background noise, your audiologist may conduct one of these exams.

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