Posted by Roger F Stokes RHAD on July 16, 2020
You have realised that your hearing is causing you problems in your everyday life. Whether you wear hearing aids or not, you know you need to find out if something can make life easier for you.
A relative may keep going on at you, saying things like “you really must get your hearing sorted” or “your tv is far too loud!” It begins to wear you down a bit in the end. On average it takes about seven years from when you first notice that you’re beginning to miss things, to getting round to having a hearing test.
Why is that? If you have problems with your eyesight, it’s not very long before you make an appointment to have your eyes tested – right? So when your ears are your main method of communication, why don’t we get it checked out quicker than we do? Vanity? People make comments like “I don’t want to wear big bulky hearing aids that everyone can see!” or “I’m not old enough to need hearing aids”. There are thousands of others I could put on here, but you get the idea.
My advice is that you should get your hearing checked as soon as you start noticing that you have difficulty hearing the television – your family or friends are likely to pass comment that it’s too loud for them. If you struggle to follow a conversation when you go out for a meal or go to a party, then you should at least have your hearing tested as soon as possible.
It may just be a build-up of wax, but you can’t look in your own ears, so you can book an appointment with us to check your ears for wax – that’s the first step. Unless your Practice Nurse has already checked it and told you that your ears are clear. If that’s the case then you should book a test with Hear4U.
You will find the phone numbers for your nearest clinic on the homepage of this website, along with a button you can click to “Book an appointment”. You will be asked a series of questions, relating to your general health, including questions connected with Coronavirus. It is part of our procedures now under Government guidelines.
It’s completely normal to feel unsure of what to expect during your first audiology appointment. However, seeing an audiologist is not like seeing a regular doctor. Audiologists are highly trained professionals who specialise in evaluating, diagnosing, treating, and managing issues related to hearing loss. Hear4U have five audiologists working in our clinics in Hinckley, Leicester and Rothwell – as well as providing a home visit service too.
For the purpose of this blog, we will assume you have already had your ears checked and established that there is no issue with wax.
Remember, if you believe you need wax removal, or you have been advised by your Practice Nurse or GP that there is wax, then, again, please make an appointment with us to get that done for you.
There are different blogs on this website about the wax removal procedures available to you with Hear4U:
*Please be assured that our centres and staff will still be operating as normal with our COVID-19 Policies and Procedures. All clients attending an appointment MUST wear a mask, gloves and adhere to social distancing where possible.
When you arrive at our clinic, you will see that our staff are donned with the appropriate PPE. You should’ve been asked to wear a mask and gloves throughout your appointment and follow the guidance given to you within the clinic, please.
At this appointment, you should be prepared to talk about all of the issues you have with your hearing (e.g. communicating, lower self-confidence, how you feel about your hearing) and whether you also experience any other problems associated with hearing loss (eg. Tinnitus). It’s important to talk openly about the different situations where you find it difficult to hear clearly (e.g. in noisy surroundings, in groups, television etc).
At Hear4U our audiologist needs to get a case history from you. This will include any relevant medical history, any recent complaints and symptoms you’ve had, and anything related to your symptoms.
Ideally, you should consider bringing a close friend or family member with you to the appointment, as we use tests that involve you needing to hear a familiar voice and testing your hearing with that medium. It also helps to have someone else present to help you communicate with the audiologist and to help remember and write down information – if you have more than a mild loss of hearing.
A bone conduction follows, and this determines the softest sound you can hear by stimulating the inner ear directly (through a bone vibrator that is placed behind the ear on the mastoid bone). The loudness of sound is measured in decibels (dB). A whisper is about 20 dB, loud music ranges 80-120 dB, and a jet engine is about 180 dB. The tone of the sound is measured in frequencies (Hz). Low bass tones range from 250 Hz, high-pitched tones can range up to 8,000 Hz.
The “Normal” hearing range is if you hear sounds between these lower/upper limits at 25 dB or lower. During this test, you will be in a quiet room and will be asked to raise your hand or push a button when you hear sounds.
Word recognition test – also called a speech discrimination test assesses a person’s ability to understand speech from background noise. If your speech discrimination is poor, speech may sound garbled and unclear. Word recognition scores can be very helpful in predicting the usefulness of a hearing system, and establishing exactly what level of technology you need to ensure your hearing is improved as much as possible.
None of these tests should be too uncomfortable and they shouldn’t be painful at all, so don’t worry. Afterwards, your Audiologist will spend time explaining the results to you, and may make referrals to your GP or other specialists if necessary. If your audiologist believes that other medical issues need to be ruled out as the cause of the hearing loss or balance disorders, you may be referred to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat consultant via your GP). You may also be advised to have hearing aids which we can give you all the advice on.
Your hearing results are recorded on an audiogram below – a graph of the softest sounds you could hear. It is laid out like a piano keyboard, with low to high frequencies (low to high pitches) going from left to right (125Hz to 8000Hz)…and with soft sounds at the top, down to loud sounds at the bottom (-10 dBHL to 120 dBHL).
Once our Hear4U audiologist has completed your test, the graph will be filled in – an example is shown below. The blue ‘x’ plots the quietest sounds you’ve heard in the left ear, and the red ‘o’ shows the quietest sounds picked up in your right ear – this is in the headphones’ test (Air conduction). If your hearing is normal, you would see a chart similar to this below. The other symbol shows the result of the bone conduction test.
Mild hearing loss is between 25dB and 40dB. You would often have difficulty following speech, especially in noisy situations. This type of loss is often noticed by family first rather than yourself.
Mild to Moderate hearing loss is between 41dB and 70dB. You often have difficulty following speech and other quiet noises.
Severe hearing loss is between 71dB – 90dB. You are unable to hear speech even in quiet surroundings and do not hear general noises such as traffic unless it’s loud.
Profound hearing loss is greater than 90dB. You are unable to hear most sounds unless they are really loud.
There are other blogs on our website explaining different types of loss:
If your results fall below the shaded “normal” hearing levels in the above graph, then our Audiologist will explain the loss in more detail, as well as going on to do further tests, such as our Lisn-S Speech Recognition test, which tests your ability to hear a conversation in the presence of background noise. If you need hearing aids, this helps us to establish what level of technology will achieve the best hearing correction for you.
The test involves you wearing headphones again, and listening to a series of short sentences – which you then have to try and repeat so we can understand just how your hearing is affected in noisy surroundings.
Assuming there are no medical reasons for your hearing loss, then we will discuss what options you have as far as hearing correction is concerned. You are under no obligation at all – we are here to help you understand what is required to improve the quality of your life, which will be of benefit to your family too. If there are medical reasons for your issues then the audiologist will discuss these with you and recommend the appropriate action accordingly.
We will also be able to demonstrate what a hearing system will sound like to you, by programming up and fitting aids to match your hearing loss precisely. This can be quite an astounding difference for you to experience, but this is also why you must bring someone with you so you have a familiar voice to listen to. You will hear their voice and your OWN voice quite differently – please don’t be put off by this, as it takes, on average 4-6 weeks for people to settle down with the “new” sounds around you.
After all, if you’ve had a hearing loss for some time, your brain will have forgotten what everyday sounds sound like. We advise people to wear the system in quiet surroundings for the first week or two, so you become accustomed to sounds in your own home first before you become braver and tackle the world in general.
There are hundreds of different hearing aids on the market. We are not tied to any particular manufacturer, so the audiologist will talk you through the different styles and types of systems suitable for you, based on all the tests we have done.
You become a client of ours and we will look after you incredibly well under our fantastic Aftercare Service which your audiologist will have detailed to you. You will have a follow-up appointment two weeks after you’ve had the system fitted, to assess your initial progress.
Your journey has just begun……..