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.