Hearing changes often do not result in an overall loss of volume. Some sounds remain as audible as they always were yet others become harder to hear. You might notice that words just don’t sound clear.
Why is clarity affected? Many people with hearing loss find it especially difficult to hear certain sounds because their hearing loss affects a certain range of pitches. In typical hearing loss, softer, higher pitch sounds become harder to hear, particularly from a distance.
Speech has many quiet, rapidly changing high pitched sounds. A lot of guesswork may be needed to understand the actual word if some of the speech sounds are not heard clearly. An example is the word “fit” which can easily be confused with “sit”, “tick” or “sick”. Conversations become more challenging when someone is speaking indirectly, or when there is background noise.
Awareness is the first step
Because people with hearing loss often do fairly well in quiet, face-to-face situations, signs of hearing loss often may not be obvious to the doctor. Only a small percentage of doctors routinely screen for hearing loss. It’s up to you to be alert to the signs and to tell your doctor if you suspect that your hearing maybe changing. To make a quick assessment of your own hearing, Click Here and try answering a few simple questions.
The Hearing Test and Evaluation
What to Expect: The Hearing Assessment
The professionals at Nilsson Hearing Clinic will discuss your hearing history to understand what factors have influenced your hearing – noise exposure, family history and medical history. They will also to get more information on your personal hearing needs:
- How you think you are doing in different situations?
- What are you doing to deal with hearing issues in your life?
- What types of social environments are you most often in?
As your appointment approaches, it is a good idea to start thinking about these questions. Your spouse or family member can give important feedback and we recommend you bring a significant other to the consultation. Often it is the other people you live and work with that can tell when you are having difficulties.
The Hearing Consultation: Audiogram
Our hearing healthcare specialists will conduct a thorough assessment of your hearing by using the latest in diagnostic technology; including, but not limited to: Pure Tone Testing, Bone Conduction Testing, Video Otoscopy, and Real Ear Speech Measurement.
An audiogram is the product of a hearing assessment. More precisely, it is a graphical representation on paper or a computer screen, showing the specific pitches (frequencies) and loudness (intensity) levels that a person can hear with each ear.
In the pictured graph, the frequencies, or pitches are shown across the bottom from low (125 Hz) to high 8000 Hz). Levels (loudness) are shown from top to bottom — the quietest sounds are at the top of the scale to the loudest sounds at the bottom.
This graph indicates that this person could hear the soft low pitched sounds very well but could not hear the high pitched sounds until the level was increased.
Everything above the markings were inaudible, and everything at and below the line were audible.
The general hearing loss categories used by most hearing professionals are as follows:
- Normal hearing (0 to 25 dB HL)
- Mild hearing loss (26 to 40 dB HL)
- Moderate hearing loss (41 to 70 dB HL)
- Severe hearing loss (71 to 90 dB HL)
- Profound hearing loss (greater than 91 dB HL)
The table below will better help you understand loudness relative to familiar sounds. Notice that normal conversation occurs around 60bD. Sign of the times – How loud do you think you listen to your iPod?
Interestingly, a mild 30 decibel hearing loss can be quite irritating depending upon the speaker and background noise. Try this experiment plug both your ears with your fingers, you’ll experience approximately a 25 decibel hearing loss.
You can be experiencing this much loss simply due to wax in your ears!
Your evaluation may also include a speech audiometry test.
Here you will be asked to listen to and repeat a series of familiar words which become softer and softer. This will help determine your speech threshold, the softest level that you can recognize familiar two syllable words like “baseball”.
Words will also be played at a comfortable, conversational level to determine your word recognition score-how well you can understand if the volume is appropriate for your needs.
If necessary, other tests can be performed to evaluate how well you hear in difficult or noisy environments. Your hearing care professional may also perform tests to evaluate other aspects of ear function to better understand your needs and provide appropriate recommendations.