Hearing and the Importance of Getting Tested
Hearing screenings should be a consistent part of you and your child’s health care plan. Just like having a yearly physical and eye exams, children and adults should have their hearing checked on a consistent basis. It’s so important to have regular hearing checkups to identify the early warning signs of hearing loss. Hearing problems even in children can be overcome if they’re caught early and can improve language and communication skills. Young adults often suffer from noise-induced hearing loss and aren’t even aware of it, while friends and family can mistake hearing loss in older adults as a cognitive impairment. Since hearing loss often develops slowly over time, you may not be aware of slight or gradual changes in your hearing.
How Can Hearing Loss Occur
There are several factors that contribute to hearing loss such as:
- Buildup of earwax
- Ear infection and abnormal bone growths or tumors
- Ruptured eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation).
- Loud noise
- Occupational noises
- Recreational noises: exposure to firearms, jet engines, and other recreational activities with dangerously high noise levels like snowmobiling, motorcycling, carpentry or listening to loud music.
- Some medications
- Some illnesses
Life Stages for Hearing Screenings
- Baby. Every child born in a hospital in the US is required by law to be given a hearing test. The earlier a hearing deficit is recognized, the sooner treatments can begin.
- Children. Sometimes what we perceive to be learning disabilities in school-aged children are actually hearing impairments.
- Young adults. Noise-induced hearing loss is a becoming more and more common among young adults. When a hearing loss is identified and corrected social interaction and career advancement is easier.
- Adulthood. About 14% of people from the ages of 45 to 64 have some degree of hearing loss. That rises to more than 30% for people who are 65 or older.
- Seniors. Approximately one in three adults between the ages of 65 and 74 have some amount of hearing loss, and half of people 75 and older have difficulty hearing. Sometimes this hearing loss is believed to be Alzheimer’s or some other cognitive impairment. It is important that seniors are encouraged to have their hearing tested annually.
Without regular screenings to catch gradual hearing loss as it occurs, relationships can be suffer and feelings of isolation and depression can take over along with loss of interest in social interactions.
Hearing Tests for Adults and Older Children
A hearing test is painless and should take around 30 minutes. Most adults who get hearing tests are asked to wear earphones and listen to short tones that are played at different volumes and pitches into one ear at a time. Whether or not you can hear each sound shows whether or not you can hear high-pitched or low-pitched sounds, quiet or loud sounds, and whether your left or right ear has hearing loss. During some hearing tests, you may also be asked to listen to speech at different volumes, which will be played into one ear at a time. The voices will be played quietly through your earphones, and you’ll be asked to repeat what words were just said. This test is done in a soundproof room, since some people have trouble hearing voices when there’s background noise.
What the Results Mean
While results can show whether you have hearing loss in one/or both ears and how much hearing is gone the intensity of sound is measured in units called decibels. When someone whispers in your ear, that’s 30 decibels. Normal speech is 60 decibels. Shouting in your ear starts at 80 decibels.
Adults with hearing loss up to 25 decibels have normal hearing. Mild hearing loss: 26 to 40 decibels, Moderate hearing loss: 41 to 55 decibels, Moderate-to-severe hearing loss: 56 to 70 decibels, Severe hearing loss: 71 to 90 decibels and Profound hearing loss: 91 to 100 decibels.
If you have hearing problems, help is available. The right treatment depends on a number of factors, such as severity of hearing loss, the underlying cause, type of hearing loss and your lifestyle. Some options include, but are not limited to, removing wax buildup, surgical procedures, hearing aids, cochlear implants and assistive listening devices. Treatments for children are also available, and not limited to, hearing aids, cochlear or brainstem implants, and bone-anchored hearing aids.
How to Get Help
Hearing loss is all too common, but with today’s amazing technology there has never been a better time to seek treatment. If you need help with your hearing, Gaston Hearing Center is here for you. Contact us to schedule an appointment.