What Does a Hearing Test Show and Reveal?

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What Does a Hearing Test Show and Reveal?
what does a hearing test show

If you’re booked in for a hearing test, you might wonder what’s involved and what they show. We explain it all here for you.

Hearing tests can be done on people of all ages, from seniors right down to little children. Proper hearing is essential for development, especially language and social skills, and any problems need to be identified early on. There are many parts of the ear involved in the hearing process, and many things can and do go wrong — whether it’s due to accident, trauma or genetic factors, or even a combination of all three. 

And it’s all too easy to take your hearing for granted, at whatever age, and just presume it will continue working. With our health, other body parts frequently take priority, including our sight, heart, blood pressure and other indicators of whether we’re doing well. But our hearing is often overlooked and left behind with health checks and screening.

If you suspect you or someone in your family, from a toddler to a parent or grandparent, might be having issues with their hearing, it’s time to get a hearing test in London and see what’s going on. They’re available on the NHS, but wait times can be long and they may refer you to an audiologist like Regain Hearing anyway. Then a hearing specialist will examine your hearing and, if there’s a problem, they will prescribe something to help rectify it. But what can a hearing test show? Let’s take a look at hearing and hearing tests.

How Common Are Hearing Problems?

It can be tempting to think hearing problems aren’t much of a problem at all in terms of how many people experience them. But the facts say otherwise. In the UK alone, around 11 million people have some degree of hearing difficulty and loss — almost 1 million of whom are profoundly deaf. Globally, it is estimated that 430 million people need hearing tests and treatment for problems they’re experiencing, and the figure is expected to shoot up to 2.5 billion people with hearing difficulties by 2050. 

We live, after all, in a noisy world, and repeated exposure to high levels of noise can have a catastrophic effect on the workings of the ears. Even attending something seemingly innocuous as a football match can put your hearing at risk and lead to temporary hearing loss due to the huge roars of the crowd. 

It’s a similar story with all the things we stick into our ears to listen to music — whether headphones or the increasingly popular earbuds — and then we turn the sound right up, causing trauma to the sensitive and delicate parts responsible for capturing sound waves and transmitting them further down the ear canal and, ultimately, to the brain for processing.

So it’s no wonder that hearing problems are so common and widespread, and getting worse. Just stepping outside and listening to the roar of the traffic can be harmful, as can be travelling on an aircraft and the actual deafening roar of takeoff and hours of cruising. 

As we get older, hearing often declines for any number of reasons, including diseases, medicines that affect hearing, smoking, abnormal development of the ear (called otosclerosis) and just a general lifetime of wear and tear on the workings of the ear. 

Not being able to hear properly can have a profound effect on your lifestyle and wellbeing, as you may no longer be able to properly take part in social events and might avoid them altogether. Hearing problems can also lead to difficulties at work that could see you lose your job. You could then spiral into a depression that could be hard to lift yourself out of — unless you take action, get a hearing test to see what’s wrong and try and remedy it. 

Signs That You Might Need a Hearing Test

Hearing loss can come on suddenly — like after that football match we mentioned — or it can develop over time and you don’t really notice it until it becomes quite bad. You might, for instance, have to keep turning the TV or radio volume up, to the point that those around you are wondering why it’s so loud. It could be that you have a buildup of earwax and you need to see your GP or audiologist to have ear wax removal done, or it could be something more serious and lasting. 

Equally, if you’re increasingly having trouble making out what people are saying to you, especially in noisy places like restaurants and pubs, it could be a sign that you’re experiencing a degree of hearing loss and need a hearing test. These kinds of conversations can leave you feeling exhausted because of the strain of trying to hear what other people are saying, and they may be wondering what’s going on because you’re asking them to speak slower or repeat what they just said.  

If you have hearing issues, you might also be missing phone calls or the doorbell ringing because you just can’t hear them. You might be avoiding taking phone calls anyway because the sounds are too muffled, and you can’t understand what’s being said. Another indication that you may have trouble and need a hearing test is that you have a buzzing or ringing noise in your ears that won’t go away — this is known as tinnitus, and it can be a sign of hearing loss. 

So What Does a Hearing Test Show and Reveal?

The good news about hearing tests is that they’re quick and painless. A machine called an audiometer is used to deliver a variety of sounds at different levels to a person via headphones to determine what range of sounds they can properly hear. At Regain Hearing, we use a video otoscopy examination too, so we can get a clear look at the inside of the ear and can directly see any problems, like an infection. We also perform ear pressure testing and word list tests. 

The room a hearing test is conducted in will typically be soundproofed, and usually, you just raise your hand or press buttons when you hear a particular tone. A hearing test is entirely safe as there are no risks to your hearing or health — it just involves listening to a range of frequencies, pitches and sounds, and you don’t need to do anything to prepare for it.

Sound is measured in decibels (dB) and the audiologist will work out what level of hearing you have depending on the sounds you can hear during your hearing test. Hearing loss is generally defined as:

  • Normal: -10 to 15 dB 
  • Slight: 16 to 25 dB
  • Mild: 26 to 42 dB
  • Moderate: 41 to 55 dB
  • Moderately severe: 56 to 70 dB
  • Severe: 71 to 90 dB
  • Profound: 91+ dB.

A normal conversation is around 60 dB, so you can see that people suffering from moderately severe, severe and profound hearing loss will either have difficulty making out what’s being said or won’t be able to hear anything at all. 

A hearing test takes around half an hour, and afterwards, your doctor or audiologist will discuss the results with you and suggest any treatment or assistance with your hearing, such as having hearing aids fitted; in some cases, they may refer you to a specialist, like a neurosurgeon, to carry out further tests. 

If you’ve been suffering from hearing loss and following corrective treatment, you should be able to hear properly once again. 

Having problems with your hearing? Book a hearing test in London with the experts at Regain Hearing and soon, you could be hearing the world like you used to.