Ask Away Blog: What to Do When You Start Losing Your Hearing

What to Do When You Start Losing Your Hearing

Thursday, June 18, 2020


If you feel your hearing is getting worse, you need to see a doctor immediately. In many cases, hearing loss is perfectly treatable, and may just be a result of an infection or a build-up of earwax. However, some forms of hearing loss are irreversible, particularly when caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises, aging, or certain medical conditions.

If you struggle to participate in conversations and turn the TV up louder than you used to, you may be starting to experience hearing impairment. By booking an appointment with your doctor, they will be able to diagnose your symptoms and rule out any more serious conditions.

What does a hearing test involve?

A hearing test will usually last between thirty minutes and an hour and has a few distinct stages designed to test the condition of your ears and how well you can hear certain sounds.

History Check

The first thing your doctor will do at the start of the test is to talk to you about your health. They will ask you about the concerns you have, as well as the medical history of you and your family. Hearing loss can be caused by many different factors, so they will want to rule out any inherited genetic causes. It could also be caused by medical conditions, infections, earwax, or even recent trauma to the head, so the interview will determine whether any of these might be causing your hearing loss. They will also talk to you about your work and whether you are frequently exposed to loud noises and discuss how your hearing impacts your life. If they ascertain that you have an identifiable physical condition in your ears, you may be better off seeing an ear, nose, and throat doctor rather than an audiologist. Learn the difference here.

Otoscopy

Your doctor will want to look for any signs of damage around your outer or inner ear. To do so, they will conduct an inspection of your inner ear, known as an otoscopy.

Audiometry

You will then be brought to a soundproof room and asked to wear headphones connected to an instrument called an audiometer. You will begin with a pure tone audiometry test, where you will be played tones of different pitches and volumes, testing the limits of your hearing. The test will then be conducted with speech, and you will listen to snippets of conversation at different volumes and asked what you can hear.

Tympanometry

Some hearing tests may involve tympanometry. Your audiologist will put a soft plug in your ears and observe how your inner ear responds to sounds and pressure changes. This will measure the reflexive responses of your ear muscles and determine how well your eardrum is working.

Results

Once all the tests have been conducted, you will be presented with your results in the form of an audiogram. This is a graph that depicts the lowest sounds you can hear at different pitches and volumes. Based on your results, your doctor will be able to identify the next course of action. If you have moderate to mild hearing loss, this is likely to be hearing aids.


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