Hearing tests give invaluable insights into your health. Because ears are so sensitive, hearing tests can sometimes identify early signs of other health issues. What will you learn from a hearing examination?
What is a Hearing Test?
There are different kinds of hearing tests, but the ordinary assessment involves putting on headphones and listening to a series of sounds. The hearing professional will play these sounds at different volumes and pitches to determine if you have hearing loss, and if so the severity of the loss.
Another common hearing test consists of listening to words in one ear and repeating them back to make certain you were capable of interpreting sounds accurately. To see what type of sounds affect your hearing, background noise is often added to this test. To be able to get an accurate measurement for each side, tests are performed on each ear separately.
What do Hearing Test Results Mean?
Whether somebody has loss of hearing, and the extent of it, is what the normal hearing test determines. Normal hearing in adults with minor hearing loss is 25 decibels or less. At this point, hearing experts gauge hearing loss as:
- Moderate to severe
The decibel level of the hearing loss defines the amount of damage.
What Else do Hearing Tests Evaluate?
There are also test which can measure the viability of structures of the middle ear like the eardrum, how clearly someone hears with background noise, the threshold of air and bone conduction, and the kind of hearing loss.
But hearing tests can also expose other health concerns like:
- Rheumatoid arthritis. Studies show that people with RA are as much as 300 percent more likely to have hearing loss.
- Meniere’s disease and other problems with dizziness and vertigo.
- Heart and circulation issues. The inner ear has one blood vessel, and that makes it more sensitive to changes in blood pressure and cholesterol.
- Diabetes. Damaged blood vessels, including the ones in the inner ear, can theoretically be harmed by too much sugar in the blood.
- Extreme headaches and pain in the joints triggered by Paget’s disease.
- And, Otosclerosis, which if diagnosed early enough, has the possibility of being reversed.
The information from the hearing test can be used by the specialist to figure out if you have the following:
- Injury from chronic disease or infections
- Age related hearing loss
- A different medical problem causing the hearing loss like high blood pressure
- Injury from trauma
- Injury caused by exposure to loud noises, ototoxic chemicals or medications
- Irregular bone growths
When you understand why you have hearing loss, you can try to find ways to manage it and to protect your general health.
A preemptive strategy to lessen the risks caused by loss of hearing will be formulated by the expert after examining the results of the test.
What Are The Risks of Neglecting Hearing Loss?
Medical science is starting to realize how hearing loss affects a person’s health and quality of life. Researchers from Johns Hopkins examined 636 individuals over 12 years. They found that an increased risk of dementia comes with loss of hearing. The risk gets higher with more substantial hearing loss.
Double the risk of dementia comes with moderate loss of hearing, based on this study. Three times the risk comes with moderate hearing loss and five times the risk with severe loss of hearing.
There is evidence of social decline with hearing loss, as well. People will avoid conversations if they have difficulty following them. Less time with friends and family and more alone time can be the outcome.
A hearing test could explain a recent bout of fatigue, too. The brain works to interpret sound, so you can comprehend what you hear. It has to work harder to perceive and translate sound when there is hearing loss. That robs your other senses of energy and makes you feel tired all the time.
Finally, the National Council on Aging states there is a clear correlation between hearing loss and depression, particularly age-related hearing loss when it is left untreated.
Treating hearing loss, with hearing aids or other hearing technology, can eliminate or decrease these risks, and a hearing test is step one for proper treatment.
A professional hearing test is a painless and safe way to find out a lot about your hearing and your health, so why are you waiting to schedule your appointment?