How Do You Know if You're Losing Your Hearing?

Published: 27th January 2010
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People who are suffering from hearing loss should try to see an audiologist for a hearing test at the earliest possible time. An audiologist should be able to say for certain whether there is any loss and tell you what caused it. After reading this article you will know what to expect from a visit to an audiologist and the tests that they are likely to perform.

You should be prepared to give details concerning your medical history. Expect to also provide details of your work history and the types of sound you have been exposed to whilst at work. You will be asked to give details of any illnesses and injuries that you have suffered that could have affected your hearing.

An audiologist may also want to know about a possible family history of hearing loss, since some conditions may be genetic. Nearly all hearing tests will involve the audiologist looking inside your ears with an instrument called an otoscope. This will enable them to examine the ear drum for any signs of damage.

Any hearing examination will probably involve an audiogram in a sound proofed room using specialized equipment. You enter the room and are given headphones to wear. Sounds are played into each earphone, and the lowest tone a patient hears is recorded. Most of us remember similar tests in school, where we were told to raise our hand whenever we heard a tone in the headphone. The equipment is likely to be more sophisticated at an audiologist?s clinic but the principle is exactly the same.

Some tests involve a pressure probe being placed in the middle ear. This test is known as a tympanometry. The device will raise and lower the air pressure of the ear whilst laying a tone. The purpose of tympanometry is to determine whether fluid or other disorders of the middle ear are contributing to the hearing loss.

It is also possible to evaluate the level of hearing loss with examinations that use a tuning fork. Once ringing, the tuning fork is placed close to the ear causing the middle ear to vibrate. Vibrations are then sent through to the inner ear by touching the tuning fork against the bone at the back of the patient's ear. The patient is then required to say which tone appeared louder. The tuning fork test can determine the location of any hearing loss and the range of the patients hearing.

An audiologist can also perform a 'site of lesion' test which can establish where any hearing loss is caused. This test compares the patient's hearing in ear of their ears when other sounds are detected. The equipment used for an audiogram will also be used for the site of lesion test but audiologist will collect a different set of results.

Other medical tests may be recommended by the audiologist to determine whether any other medical conditions may be causing the hearing loss. A specialist may take an x-ray of the brain and inner ear to get a closer look at the nerves that are present.

Combining different test results can allow the audiologist to get a fuller diagnosis of the causes of the hearing loss so that they can recommend the best treatments. Because of the different hearing tests that are available a precise diagnosis can be achieved and effective treatments can help the patient go on to have a better quality of life.

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