Meet Henry. Henry’s hearing loss was discovered at the age of 57. He was fitted with hearing aids and wore them part-time for about two years. They helped him in quiet listening situations but were a real bother to wear in noisy situations. And that’s where he had most of his trouble understanding. So one day Henry put his hearing aids in a drawer and that’s where they stayed for the next five years.
Then, at the age of 64, something literally changed his life. It was a hearing test…a GOOD hearing test…the kind of hearing test everyone has the right to expect. Despite numerous hearing tests and evaluations throughout the last several years, no one had ever taken the time to truly explain Henry’s hearing loss to him or how it affected his ability to communicate with his family and friends. But this last time, someone actually took the time to be with Henry rather than treating him like a specimen having a test administered to him or a sales opportunity.
Because of this thorough test and consultation, the right hearing technology was chosen. Now Henry wears his hearing instruments everyday, in all types of listening situations. He especially loves the help they give him when in noisy environments. He actually feels part of conversations now. And this all started with having a GOOD hearing test.
Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and compassion, and be informed when having a hearing test. Here is what a GOOD hearing test includes and what you should expect:
1. First, a licensed hearing aid dispenser or audiologist will conduct a complete case history including a thorough lifestyle assessment to determine when and where you need to hear better.
2. Next, your ear canals are inspected for wax and any unusual conditions.
3. A Speech Discrimination Test is then given to find out how well you currently understand speech. This testing can be done in both quiet and noise.
4. Puretone testing then measures your hearing ability across the full spectrum of sound. Over one-third of hearing tests conducted fall within the normal range and require no further testing.
5. However, if further testing is needed, a bone conduction test is done to rule out any medical problems with your ears. Most losses are indicative of “nerve loss”, and cannot be corrected surgically or with medicine. The next step, then, is to determine if hearing instruments will help.
6. A comprehensive series of speech tests should be done to determine how much hearing aids will help. Your sensitivity to loudness should also be measured because this information is needed to determine the best type of circuit or technology for your unique hearing loss.
7. A better-than-good hearing test would also include a “Speech-In-Noise” test to determine your ability to process speech in the presence of noise.
8. So that you understand your test results, the person conducting the test should take the time to explain your hearing loss to you in an easy to understand way. Be sure to ask any questions you have. After all, this is your hearing loss and it affects your life. You need to be informed.
9. After testing is completed, you will receive a written copy of your test results to keep with your medical records.
10. Now, if you choose to get help, your audiologist or dispenser will recommend a fitting for you and your lifestyle needs. They should also talk with you and your family about realistic expectations. Hearing aids help a lot but can only enhance the part of your hearing that is left over.
The most important thing is that you feel comfortable with the test, and how the test results are explained to you. It is critical that you understand the nature of your hearing loss. Had someone done that for Henry, his life would have been different sooner.