Important insight into your state of health is provided by a hearing test. Because ears are so sensitive, hearing tests can sometimes detect early signs of other health problems. What will you discover from a hearing examination?
What is a Hearing Exam?
Out of the many kinds of hearing exams, putting on headphones and listening to a series of sounds is the basic exam. The hearing specialist will play these sounds at different volumes and pitch levels to figure out if you have hearing loss, and if so the depth of the loss.
Another common hearing exam involves listening to words in one ear and repeating them back to make sure you are able to interpret sounds correctly. To find out what type of sounds influence your hearing, background noise is sometimes added to this test. Tests are commonly done in each ear separately to get a proper measurement for each side.
What do Hearing Test Results Indicate?
Ultimately, a typical hearing test determines whether somebody has hearing loss and the extent of it. Adults with minor hearing loss, 25 decibels or less, are considered to have normal hearing. From there, hearing professionals gauge hearing loss as:
- Moderate to severe
The level of impairment is based on the decibel level of the hearing loss.
Do Hearing Tests Determine Anything Else?
There are also test which can determine the viability of structures of the middle ear like the eardrum, how well a person hears with background noise, the threshold of air and bone conduction, and the kind of hearing loss.
But hearing exams can also uncover other health problems like:
- Heart and circulation problems. The inner ear has one blood vessel, which makes it more susceptible to alterations in blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Diabetes. It’s believed that too much sugar in the blood can damage blood vessels like the one that goes to the inner ear.
- Otosclerosis, which if diagnosed early can possibly be reversed.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Hearing loss is 300% percent more likely in people with RA..
- Dizziness, vertigo, and other challenges related to Meniere’s disease.
- Paget’s disease, which can cause severe headaches and pain in the joints and bones.
The hearing specialist will take all the insight revealed by hearing exams and use it to figure out if you have:
- Hearing loss related to aging
- Another medical problem like high blood pressure causing hearing loss
- Damage from chronic infections or disease
- Damage from trauma
- Irregular bone growths
- Damage caused by exposure to ototoxic chemicals or medications, loud noises
Once you discover why you have loss of hearing, you can try to find ways to manage it and to protect your general health.
The hearing professional will also examine the results of the exam to determine risk factors caused by your loss of hearing and come up with a preemptive strategy to lower those risks.
If You Ignore Hearing Loss, What Are The Risks?
Medical science is starting to understand how quality of life and health are impacted by loss of hearing. Researchers from Johns Hopkins examined 636 individuals over 12 years. They found that people with loss of hearing have an increased risk of dementia. The risk gets higher with more substantial hearing loss.
According to this study, someone with mild hearing loss has double the risk of dementia. A moderate loss means three times the risk, and severe hearing impairment raises the risk by five.
There is evidence of social decline with loss of hearing, as well. People who have trouble following conversations will avoid having them. Less time with family and friends and more alone time can be the outcome.
A recent bout of fatigue might also be explained by a hearing test. The brain works to interpret sound, so you can understand what you hear. When there is hearing loss, it will have to work harder to perceive sound and interpret it. Your left always feeling tired as your other senses are robbed of energy.
Finally, the National Council on Aging states there is a clear correlation between loss of hearing and depression, specifically age-related hearing loss when it is left untreated.
Treating hearing loss, with hearing aids or other hearing technology, can minimize or even get rid of these risks, and a hearing test is step one for correct treatment.
A professional hearing test is a pain-free and safe way to learn a lot about your hearing and your health, so why are you waiting to schedule your appointment?