15, May 2016
Hearing loss is among the most common medical conditions in the United States. More than 48 million of us have significant hearing troubles in one form or another. Those struggles can affect anyone — young and old alike — regardless if the loss is caused from genetics, trauma, illness, the environment or old age. If you’re concerned that you or your loved ones might have hearing loss, then it’s important to get tested by a hearing professional. A hearing professional will determine if you have hearing loss through a hearing screening, and what kind of loss you’re experiencing with a hearing evaluation. This is done by measuring your ability to hear sounds that reach the brain through the ear canal. Our bodies decipher sound by tuning into vibrational frequencies that happen in air, liquid or solid materials. These vibrations create sound waves, which have certain frequencies and amplitudes based on the speed and height of the vibrations. If a sound wave is vibrating fast, then it has a high pitch. And the height size of the sound wave dictates how loud that sound manifests. Most hearing tests use an audiometer to create specific sound waves at particular vibrations to see if and what you’re able to hear.
Online Hearing Tests
Waiting to treat hearing loss can lead to other issues. Adults might not be able to safely operate a car or heavy machinery, hear people at work, or meaningfully converse with loved ones. Failing to treat hearing loss in children can hamper their social skills, set them back in school, and harm their cognitive and physical development. Diagnosing hearing loss is a painless experience, and it doesn’t take much time. Plus there are various online hearing tests that offer questionnaires to evaluate if visiting a hearing professional is recommended. Individuals that are interested in an easy in-home hearing screening can try those offered by the Better Hearing Institute and Healthy Hearing. Both organizations offer options that are fast, easy and offer good insight for you and your hearing professional — should you book an appointment.
Hearing Screening vs. Hearing Evaluation
If you do make the appointment then there are two different test categories your hearing professional will likely perform. The first is a hearing screening, which is a quick, cost-effective preliminary exam that checks your hearing to determine if further testing is necessary. If your screening results show that you need further testing then you move on to the second category: a hearing evaluation. This is an in-depth assessment of your hearing to investigate what type of hearing loss you have, how severe it is and what the best treatment options are.
Hearing Loss Treatment
Once your hearing professional determines what type of hearing loss you have, the next step is figuring out what treatment options are available. If your hearing loss is conductive, which happens when something stops sound from reaching your inner ear, then you often have three options: medicine, surgery or hearing aids. If you’ve been diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, which is when the hearing nerve isn’t working as intended, then you’re likely looking at hearing aids or surgery. And if your audiologist says you have mixed hearing loss then your best options are medications, hearing aids or a cochlear implant. Hearing aids are among the most common solutions. The devices are highly customizable to fit whatever your needs are, and you’re able to make them as visible or invisible as you’d like. Your hearing professional will be able to recommend particular brands or features, and consult on hearing aid care. For all you need to know about hearing aid batteries, be sure to visit our hearing aid resource center.