Should I get my hearing tested?

September 08, 2021
Hearing loss

WRITTEN BY

Sarah Wakefield, AuD

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Have you noticed that voices are sounding more muffled lately? Are you turning up the volume on the TV or asking people to repeat themselves?

As we age, gradual hearing loss is common. In fact, almost half the people in the United States older than age 65 have some degree of hearing loss. Workers in high-noise occupations, such as construction or restaurants, are also more at risk of hearing loss.

There are three types of hearing loss: conductive (outer or middle ear), sensorineural (inner ear), and mixed (a combination of the two). Even though most types of hearing loss can’t be reversed, our hearing specialists at Mount Nittany Health have many treatments for improving your hearing—which can greatly improve your quality of life.

What are some signs of hearing problems?

Regardless of your age or job, you should get a hearing test if you (or a loved one) feel you're not hearing as well as you used to.

These are some signs and symptoms of hearing loss:

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Having to concentrate hard to hear what people are saying
  • Avoiding social settings because conversations are too exhausting

What can I expect at a hearing assessment?

If you can identify with some of the above symptoms, it’s time for a hearing assessment. The good news is, hearing tests are painless and non-invasive.

When you visit our practice for the first time, we will have you fill out a case history form, which can help determine if you could have any conditions in your family that could contribute to hearing loss.

Our hearing professionals will ask you about your symptoms and how they are affecting your daily life. We will ask about your lifestyle and the types of work, hobbies, and social situations that are important to you.

Your hearing test will be in a quiet, sound-treated room designed to keep out any outside noises that might affect your hearing exam scores. You will be asked to wear headphones or soft earplugs with wires connected to an instrument called an audiometer, which will be used to conduct several types of tests:

Pure-tone audiometry. In this part of the test, you’ll listen to tones at different pitches and volumes. Your hearing care professional will communicate with you and provide instructions through your headphones. You’ll be asked to respond to even very quiet tone sounds because the test measures the very softest sounds you can hear at each frequency tested.

Speech audiometry. Speech audiometry uses recorded or live speech instead of pure tones, evaluating the softest speech sounds you can hear and understand. You will be asked to repeat back words to see how well you can understand them.

Should I get my hearing tested?
Written by Sarah Wakefield, AuD, Mount Nittany Physician Group Audiology
Sarah Wakefield, AuD, Mount Nittany Physician Group Audiology

Call our office at 814.234.6190 or schedule an appointment online through our patient portal at MyMountNittanyHealth.com.

Have you noticed that voices are sounding more muffled lately? Are you turning up the volume on the TV or asking people to repeat themselves?

As we age, gradual hearing loss is common. In fact, almost half the people in the United States older than age 65 have some degree of hearing loss. Workers in high-noise occupations, such as construction or restaurants, are also more at risk of hearing loss.

There are three types of hearing loss: conductive (outer or middle ear), sensorineural (inner ear), and mixed (a combination of the two). Even though most types of hearing loss can’t be reversed, our hearing specialists at Mount Nittany Health have many treatments for improving your hearing—which can greatly improve your quality of life.

What are some signs of hearing problems?

Regardless of your age or job, you should get a hearing test if you (or a loved one) feel you're not hearing as well as you used to.

These are some signs and symptoms of hearing loss:

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly, and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Asking people to repeat themselves
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Having to concentrate hard to hear what people are saying
  • Avoiding social settings because conversations are too exhausting

What can I expect at a hearing assessment?

If you can identify with some of the above symptoms, it’s time for a hearing assessment. The good news is, hearing tests are painless and non-invasive.

When you visit our practice for the first time, we will have you fill out a case history form, which can help determine if you could have any conditions in your family that could contribute to hearing loss.

Our hearing professionals will ask you about your symptoms and how they are affecting your daily life. We will ask about your lifestyle and the types of work, hobbies, and social situations that are important to you.

Your hearing test will be in a quiet, sound-treated room designed to keep out any outside noises that might affect your hearing exam scores. You will be asked to wear headphones or soft earplugs with wires connected to an instrument called an audiometer, which will be used to conduct several types of tests:

Pure-tone audiometry. In this part of the test, you’ll listen to tones at different pitches and volumes. Your hearing care professional will communicate with you and provide instructions through your headphones. You’ll be asked to respond to even very quiet tone sounds because the test measures the very softest sounds you can hear at each frequency tested.

Speech audiometry. Speech audiometry uses recorded or live speech instead of pure tones, evaluating the softest speech sounds you can hear and understand. You will be asked to repeat back words to see how well you can understand them.

Speech in noise and words in noise tests. During these tests you will listen to someone say words and statements while a soundtrack plays increasingly noisy sounds. These tests assess “real-world” hearing ability, mimicking how you might hear in a restaurant or noisy grocery store.

How should I prepare for my appointment?

More good news: No studying is necessary! But a few simple steps will help you be prepared.

List medications and key medical events. Some illnesses can impede your ability to hear. If you have a history of ear infections, the audiologist needs to know. Because some medications can cause sensorineural hearing loss, you should bring a list of all medications and supplements you are taking.

Grab a friend. Bringing along a family member or close friend can help your appointment go smoothly. They have a unique insight into your ability to hear because they interact with you on a regular basis. While you may tell the audiologist that you have no problems hearing conversation, their experience may prove otherwise.

Clean your ears. At least two days before your appointment, clean your ears of wax. Don’t use cotton swabs—you can damage your ears if you insert objects in your ear canal. Take a warm washcloth and gently wipe your ear with your finger.

Avoid loud noises. Avoid any noise louder than a vacuum cleaner for about 12 hours before your hearing test. Even temporary exposure to loud noise can affect your ability to hear. If you were exposed to loud noise recently, your ears are still recovering, and the results of the hearing test will not be accurate.

If you’re not feeling well, please reschedule. Allergies, colds, and sinus and ear infections can all cause fluid in the ear. If you have fluid in your ear, your test results will not be accurate. Besides, you don’t want to spread germs! If you have a cold, allergies acting up, or an ear or sinus infection, please call our office and we will be more than happy to reschedule.

How can I schedule an appointment?

Call our office at 814.234.6190 or schedule an appointment online through our patient portal at MyMountNittanyHealth.com.

Sarah Wakefield, AuD, is a provider with Mount Nittany Physician Group Audiology. Her specialty areas include tinnitus and auditory processing disorders.

About The Author

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“Hearing loss impacts each person differently,” shares Dr. Wakefield. “It’s important to listen to each patient and fully understand their situation in order to best treat and manage their hearing healthcare needs.”

Dr. Wakefield earned her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from The Pennsylvania State University and her doctorate in audiology from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology and the American Auditory Society.
“To know that I’ve been able to make a positive difference in a patient’s quality of life is what this work is all about,” Dr. Wakefield says. “It’s what makes it all worth it.”

Outside of the office, Dr. Wakefield enjoys gardening and practicing yoga. She especially appreciates time spent with family, including her husband and their daughter

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