Every adult over the age of 50 should undergo a baseline hearing test and have their hearing assessed annually. Audiologists measure the status of the outer, middle and inner ear, and can assist you with hearing instruments, or refer you for further medical management, if required.
Do you remember the last time you had a hearing test? Perhaps you were in school! Every adult over the age of 50 should have a baseline hearing test. This helps you to gather information about your current hearing status, and the predicted future of your hearing. Thereafter, one should have regular tests, to monitor any changes that may occur with age. This should be done by an audiologist. Hearing loss can be mild, moderate or severe, or may occur at certain frequencies only. This explains why people may seem to be mumbling more than they used to, or why you only have difficulty hearing in background noise! Audiologists are also qualified to provide assessments and management for tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ear) as well as dizziness or balance disturbances.
The hearing test will allow you to meet your local audiologist and form a relationship. She will take your medical case history, and ask some questions regarding your lifestyle and any hearing concerns you may have. Thereafter, she will conduct a visual examination of the outer ear and ear canal, including the eardrum, by directing a light known as an otoscope into the ear canal. The audiologist will check the eardrum movement and middle ear pressure by using a test known as tympanometry. Then, you will be seated in a quiet, sound-treated booth and respond to a series of beeps by pushing on a button. This provides a concrete measurement of your hearing sensitivity at each frequency. Finally, you will respond to a series of words at different loudness levels by repeating them back to the audiologist. Then, you will receive a detailed feedback about your hearing sensitivity, as well as any diagnostic concerns that the audiologist may have.
Hearing instruments (or “hearing aids”) may strike a note of fear or resistance! Many adults remember their parents struggling with hearing aids that were big and bulky, that whistled and eventually landed up in the drawer. The good news is that hearing instruments have come a long way with digital technology, and are constantly improving. Hearing instruments are programmed specifically for your hearing levels via sophisticated computer software. Most hearing instruments are now compatible with Bluetooth and wireless devices allowing you to answer calls, listen to music or TV via your hearing instruments. Best of all, they are significantly better looking and more discrete than ever before. If you are a candidate for hearing instrument use, your audiologist can arrange for you to undergo a trial of hearing instruments for several weeks at home, before making your decision.