The purpose of a hearing test is very straightforward. It uses auditory stimulus to analyse the performance of your hearing to look for potential problems or a complete inability to hear particular noises. A hearing test is used to identify whether or not you have hearing loss, and if treatments like hearing aids are necessary to help you achieve a better quality of life.
It’s very important that you book a hearing test if you’re experiencing the signs of hearing loss. Treatment can rarely reverse damage, but it can do two things very successfully:
- It can make your life easier. Even mild hearing loss can have an impact on your day-to-day routine. Treatment can reduce or even remove problems associated with your hearing loss.
- It can slow the cause of hearing loss. If you know what the root cause of your hearing loss is, hearing tests can help develop measures that slow or halt the progression of hearing loss.
The only way hearing tests can help you see (and hear) changes though, is if you make an appointment to get your ears looked at by a professional.
The problem is, many people don’t know they actually have hearing loss. The symptoms of hearing loss aren’t always as obvious as being deaf. Lots of people have milder forms of hearing loss and are simply unaware of the problem. It’s still affecting their lives but they don’t know it’s hearing loss that is causing the problem.
Evidence reported on by industry-leading non-profit Action for Hearing Loss tells us that only about 40% of people who need hearing aids have them, and people who have symptoms of early hearing loss will wait on average an entire decade from onset until they get their hearing tested.
At which point the problem could be considerably worse.
But this doesn’t have to be your story. We now have a wealth of information that helps us understand early hearing loss signs. Armed with this information, we advise you to get a much-needed hearing test as soon as you notice signs of hearing loss.
So what warning signs should you look out for?
Get Your Hearing Tested If: You’re Always Asking People to Repeat Themselves
Do you find you’re always asking people to repeat themselves? It may be because you need your hearing tested.
Humans are guilty of exhibiting a behaviour called optimism bias — it’s the mantra of “it won’t happen to me”. The concept is very simple, and it essentially means that we don’t presume to be negatively affected by something.
Bad things don’t happen to us, they happen to other people.
So when you can’t hear somebody speaking, it’s not because you need your hearing tested. Instead, it’s because they’re too far away or mumbling or you weren’t listening. In reality, if you often ask people to repeat themselves — or you aren’t hearing bits of information — then you may well be experiencing hearing loss.
Sure, they could be mumbling or too far away. That is a problem as well. However, if this happens a lot, it’s worth asking questions and getting your hearing checked. Most people will speak at a volume that you should be able to hear just fine, so if you’re struggling to hear them, chances are high that using a hearing aid, or even just cleaning out ear wax, will provide a quick fix to your communication woes.
Get Your Hearing Tested If: You Have Persistent Ringing in Your Ears
A very common problem that affects as many as 15% of the world’s population is tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a persistent ringing in your ears, often more pronounced when you are in environments with little to no background noise. It can be very loud or it can be barely noticeable. Tinnitus has many causes from medication side-effects to injury, but the most common cause is hearing loss.
Hearing loss naturally reduces your ability to hear sounds through a loss of hearing receptors in your ear, but your brain retains the pathways that these receptors used to feed it information. This means your brain is active but the sensors it relies upon don’t work. Because it lacks stimulus from these receptors, your brain actually creates its own noise. That ringing in your ear is not caused by damage to your ear, but instead your brain trying to hear something it can’t.
Using hearing tests to identify the cause of your tinnitus allows you to seek treatment for the ringing in your ears. It also allows you to spot early signs of hearing loss quite easily, as tinnitus is a very obvious symptom. We recommend that if you experience persistent ringing in your ears that you book an appointment to get your hearing tested.
Get Your Hearing Tested If: You’re Unable to Hold a Conversation in Noisy Places
Is this a familiar scene?
You’re in a restaurant or bar, or perhaps on a bus or plane. It’s noisy, it’s hard to hear yourself think let alone talk. Your friends and family are all chatting away and you have no idea how. It’s too loud in here to hold a conversation. Instead, you just sit back and stay quiet, avoiding social engagement.
When you have hearing loss, it becomes more difficult for your ear to filter out certain noises and bits of information. Different sounds blur into one and the result is that it becomes impossible to differentiate voices from the whir of a plane engine or the beat of a background song. The fact that your friends and family can keep chatting isn’t due to force of will, it’s because their ear health is better than yours. They are able to filter the noises and focus on the right sounds — the sounds of voices.
If you’re struggling in noisy environments where others just keep on talking, it’s time to look into hearing tests. Treatments like hearing aids can help improve your ability to separate out sounds and carry conversations when there is plenty of background noise.
Get Your Hearing Tested If: You’re Always Turning up the TV Volume
Does this story sound familiar?
You come home from work and switch on the TV. You notice the volume is quite low. Lower than you set it last time. A family member had probably been watching the TV and turned it down. Why do they always turn it down? It’s much too quiet. You turn it up to enjoy your TV show.
It’s unlikely that your family member has superhuman hearing if they keep turning the TV down. It’s more likely that you have hearing loss if you have to turn it up. This is a very small but clear-cut sign you need a hearing test. If an appropriate TV volume for the rest of your household is too quiet for you, your hearing is likely to be suffering from a reduced ability to process information.
Get Your Hearing Tested If: You’re Missing Sounds You Shouldn’t
Are you noticing a pattern in your life?
You sleep through your alarm. You miss phone calls. You don’t hear cars coming and you sometimes burn food because you miss the cooker timer. This isn’t just you being complacent or just not paying attention, it’s likely that instead your hearing is damaged and your inner-ear receptors are not picking up on these alert noises.
Alarms or alert messages like those for a text are often very abrupt and intrusive. They are designed to get your attention. They’re very difficult to ignore. If you’re missing these noises regularly, it may hint at an underlying hearing problem and it’s time to book a hearing test.