A Simple Way To Test Your Hearing
Research and Innovations Much like going to an optometrist to test your vision, or a neurologist to test your nervous system, seeing an audiologist is the ideal way to test your hearing.
Cases of hearing loss have grown, according to a recent Statistics Canada report, which found that approximately 70 percent of Canadians with measured hearing loss were not actually aware of any loss.
Unlike other ailments, hearing loss tends to happen very gradually, adding a greater level of importance to getting a hearing check-up, even if there are no suspected issues. Next to age, those with a history of noise exposure are most at risk.
“While growing older is a process we cannot avoid, it is possible to avoid unnecessary hearing loss due to noise exposure,” says Jillian Price, chief audiologist at ListenUp! Canada. “Through the use of hearing protection such as custom noise plugs or headphones, one can protect their hearing against the harmful effects of loud sounds.”
“Hearing aids have evolved tremendously. You can connect to your smartphone, computer or TV directly. Some are tiny devices that are efficient and intelligent, ensuring you get the most out of your life.”
Price suggests that regular and ongoing hearing tests should begin at around age 60, although consistent exposure to loud noise should make that even sooner. This helps a hearing healthcare professional track subtle changes over time and identify problems at the onset.
A hearing test is also completely non-invasive. During the initial appointment, an audiologist performs a full audiological assessment that includes the functioning of the complete auditory system.
“Part of this testing consists of sitting in a sound-treated booth and listening to a series of tones at varying levels in order to identify how well you hear and to classify your hearing levels,” explains Price. “At the end of the visit, your audiologist will be able to tell you if you have hearing loss, and if so, the type and severity of your hearing loss.”
The audiologist guides the entire process, from the initial evaluation, to the discussion of treatment options and follow-up once a treatment has been decided on, which is usually a hearing aid.
Tracy Saunders, chief audiologist at Hearing Solutions, says it’s not so important for a hearing professional to know why hearing loss happened to someone, because the focus is on how to treat it effectively. She also believes the stigma toward hearing loss is slowly fading, enabling people to feel more comfortable about getting tested at an earlier age.
“We’re really trying hard to get people to realize that hearing decline as we get older is a completely normal process, and we shouldn’t be ashamed or embarrassed about it,” says Saunders. “Just as we’re so accepting of putting glasses on or dying grey hair, there’s no reason that treating hearing loss can’t be viewed in the same light.”
Since hearing loss progresses so slowly, Saunders says it can be hard to notice the change. Sometimes friends or loved ones may pick up on it, and she notes that those close to people who may be hearing-impaired should motivate them to go see an audiologist.
The fact that advancements in hearing aid technology have improved the aesthetic look and feel of devices, could be another motivating factor, now that there a number of different models and sizes for people to choose from.
“Hearing aids have evolved tremendously. You can connect to your smartphone, computer or TV directly. Some are tiny devices that are efficient and intelligent, ensuring you get the most out of your life,” she says. “Untreated hearing loss has a huge impact on quality of life. If you want to keep living and enjoying life, hearing your grandchildren, going to parties, conversing with a group of people or even just working on the job, it’s worth getting your ears checked.”