Better Hearing Starts with a Comprehensive Hearing Assessment
Although hearing loss is the third most common health issue in the US, behind arthritis and heart disease, screening for hearing loss tends to take a back seat to other forms of health screening.
When left undetected and untreated, hearing loss increases in severity, causing mental health issues like depression and anxiety as well as contributing to physical health challenges like balance disorders and cognitive decline. However, most people put off hearing tests for between 7 and 10 years after the appearance of early signs of hearing loss or until hearing challenges make it difficult to communicate with others.
If you’re ready to get ahead of hearing before it has a chance to take control of you, you might be asking, “Where can I go for a hearing test near me?”
Our audiologists at the Utah Hearing Institute clinics in Bountiful, Tooele, Park City and West Valley City have the experience, expertise and equipment to accurately identify the type and severity of your hearing loss through a comprehensive hearing assessment.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hearing Loss
What are some common signs of hearing loss?
You could be experiencing a hearing loss if you experience any of the following:
- You ask people to repeat themselves with greater frequency.
- You struggle to make out what someone is saying in a noisy environment.
- You often mishear certain words.
- Everyone around you seems to be mumbling.
- Friends and loved ones keep telling you to turn down the TV.
- You’re struggling to understand phone conversations.
- You experience a constant ringing or buzzing in your ears.
- Loved ones, friends, and colleagues are telling you to “get your ears checked.”
What causes hearing loss?
Most hearing loss is the result of presbycusis, or the deterioration of the structural components of the inner ear, often in relation to aging or genetics.
The second most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), which results from frequent or ongoing exposure to loud noise without proper hearing protection.
Other causes of hearing loss are connected to earwax or some other object blocking the ear canal, inflammation, and growths or tumors as well as ototoxic drugs and medications.
Are there different types of hearing loss?
Audiologists identify three different kinds of hearing loss:
- Conductive Hearing Loss. An obstruction (earwax, inflammation, growth, foreign object, etc.) inside the ear canal blocks sound from being “conducted” to the middle ear.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss. Results from permanent damage to inner ear structures (cochlea) or within the auditory nerve, which can come from aging, noise exposure, damage caused by medications, cancer treatments, or illnesses.
- Mixed Hearing Loss. Involves both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Are there different levels of hearing loss?
During a hearing test, your capacity to hear various pitches or frequencies is measured and plotted on an audiogram, allowing your audiologist to classify your hearing loss in one of five categories, including:
- Mild: Trouble hearing conversations in a noisy room or when someone is speaking quietly. Mild hearing loss is manageable or unnoticeable in quiet environments.
- Moderate: Difficulty understanding conversations in group settings. People who experience a moderate loss tend to have the TV turned up too loud and frequently ask others to repeat themselves.
- Moderately Severe: Hearing and understanding speech becomes extremely difficult, especially in group environments or when talking on the telephone.
- Severe: Normal conversation becomes inaudible, and shouting can still be challenging to comprehend.
- Profound: At this level, only the loudest sounds are audible, and shouting may not be heard at all.
Can I have a hearing loss in just one ear?
Although not common, single sided hearing loss is possible, but most people with a hearing loss have a loss in both ears (bilateral loss). However, one ear might have greater damage, or you learn to favor one ear as your hearing deteriorates.
True unilateral hearing loss may be caused by:
- Congenital or genetics
- Illness or infection
- Head or ear trauma
Single-sided deafness (SSD) is when hearing loss in one ear is so severe that a conventional hearing aid will not help, but there are specific hearing aids that may help route sounds from the poor ear over to the good ear by using Bluetooth technology.
Can I prevent hearing loss?
Hearing loss cannot always be prevented, but you can limit its effect on your life by:
- Limiting exposure to noise with proper hearing protection whether at work, while you’re doing chores around the house (mowing the lawn, sawing wood, etc.), enjoying recreational activities (snowmobiling, target shooting, hunting, etc.), or attending a concert, nightclub, or major sporting event.
- Scheduling annual hearing tests, especially if you’re over the age of 50, which allows you and your hearing care provider to monitor your hearing health and take action before things get worse.
- Using hearing aids to address your hearing loss. For those experiencing a hearing loss, hearing aids stimulate the hearing nerve, making the most out of the hearing ability you have left, assist in helping you maintain your balance, and protect your brain's ability to recognize speech.
Are hearing aids the only treatment option for hearing loss?
What Our Delighted Patients Say
What You Can Expect During an Assessment
A Friendly Conversation
Our consultations start with a conversation about you. Not only do we get a chance to know you better and put you at ease, but we also learn a lot about the various genetic tendencies and medical conditions that lead to hearing challenges as well as occupational and lifestyle activities that put your hearing at greater risk.
As part of the best practices of audiology we follow, transparency is important, so your audiologist will give you a chance to ask questions or express concerns related to your hearing loss and/or the hearing care services we provide.
Physical Examination of Your Ears
Your licensed professional audiologist will continue your assessment with a physical examination of your ears by using an otoscope (a magnifying glass with a light on a tapered tip).
This part of the assessment allows us to evaluate skin conditions, earwax accumulation, inflammation, or the presence of other obstructions in your ear canal as well as examine the structural health of the eardrum.
Some cases of conductive hearing loss are resolved by the removal of obstructions, like earwax, a bug or some other foreign object, antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications, or by removing a growth or tumor by using a simple surgical procedure.
Discussing Your Results
Your audiologist will wrap up your comprehensive hearing assessment with an honest discussion about your test results and what they mean. We’ll discuss the different options necessary to maintain or improve your hearing, whether through the use of hearing protection for work or certain activities and hobbies, changes to medications or lifestyle habits, as well as the need for hearing aids or other interventions.
Regardless of the outcome of your results, your input during this process is an essential element in establishing a viable hearing care partnership that begins with honesty and trust.
Hearing Tests During Your Hearing Assessment
Tympanometry measures the pressure in the middle ear by introducing a subtle pressure change into the ear canal.
This pressure measurement provides your audiologist with information about what’s going on inside your middle ear, such as fluid behind the eardrum or a ruptured eardrum.
Pure Tone Audiometry
What most people think of when someone mentions a hearing test, pure tone audiometry helps identify the type and severity of your hearing loss. During this test, patients are instructed to respond whenever they hear pure tones presented in descending levels from 250 Hz-8000 Hz transmitted through the ear canal using headphones (air) or via bone conduction.
The pure tone threshold is the lowest level at which two of three responses are given for the same frequency. If there is a difference of 15 decibels or more between air and bone conduction thresholds, further testing is necessary.
Your ability to understand speech can be tested by using two types of speech audiometry.
During speech reception threshold testing (SRT), you will be instructed to repeat spondee words (composed of two syllables pronounced with equal stress and effort) presented in descending levels. Your SRT score is the lowest level at which two of three spondees are repeated correctly.
Speech discrimination scores measure your ability to understand speech. You’ll receive a percentage score of the number of phonetically-balanced words (those that contain all the phonetic elements of connected English discourse in their normal proportion to one another) you are able to repeat at a comfortable listening level.
Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are tiny sounds recorded in the ear canal from the cochlea. The tiny nerve cells in the cochlea (hair cells) react in certain ways to the presence of sounds.
This test is used when there is a variation of 15 decibels or more between the air and bone conduction tests. After inserting a soft tip into the patient’s ear, clicking or buzzing sounds will be transmitted into the ear to stimulate certain hair cells in the cochlea. If the hair cells are healthy, they will emit a tiny response (similar to an echo) that can be measured with special equipment.
OAEs measure the underlying damage to the cochlea, especially in cases of noise-induced hearing loss, which involves overworking hair cells in noisy environments until they become broken and damaged.
Schedule an Appointment
If family, friends, and co-workers are telling you to turn down the TV, harassing you to get your ears checked, or if it is becoming impossible to enjoy a night out or family gathering because of background noise, it could mean that you are experiencing a hearing loss.
The licensed professional audiologists at Utah Ear Institute can provide you with the truth about your hearing with a comprehensive hearing assessment.
Contact us by filling out and submitting the adjacent form so a member of our team can give you a call and provide scheduling assistance.
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