Book a Hearing Test Consultation

Why You Should Probably Book a Consultation for a Hearing Test 

The ability to hear is an amazing gift that we often take for granted, and only when that ability is lost or impaired do we fully appreciate its true value. In addition to providing the means with which to enjoy music and conversation, our auditory sense alerts us to all manner of dangers of which we might otherwise remain unaware. That said, from around the latter years of our third decade, our auditory abilities begin to deteriorate gradually in a process known as presbycusis. While this perfectly natural process may not be sufficiently evident for you to book a consultation for a hearing test any time soon, there are several other good reasons why it may be wise to do so.

In the less developed world of the past, there was little apart from a traumatic accident that might impede one’s ability to hear. However, many of the advances that have since emerged and which were intended to improve our lifestyles have since been shown to have some less than desirable side effects. For example, some of the successors to Alexander Fleming’s “magic bullet”, such as streptomycin and gentamicin, are known to cause auditory impairment in some subjects, as do certain painkillers and anti-inflammatories, including aspirin and ibuprofen. Repeated and regular use of any of these could be reason enough to book a consultation for a hearing test.

However, both more widespread and insidious in its effect on aural efficiency than these implicated medications is another modern phenomenon – noise. It is not the melodic tones of the dawn chorus or the crashing of waves upon the shore that threaten our audition, but the noises generated by labour-saving devices, such as the internal combustion engine, the pneumatic drill, the power mower, and a vast range of manufacturing equipment. Together with night clubs, rock concerts, and portable music players represent the most serious threat to aural health to date. NIHL or noise-induced hearing loss now prompts more people to book a consultation for a hearing test than all other forms of auditory impairment combined.

A normal conversation generates a noise level of about 60 decibels and poses no threat to one’s ears. By contrast, a lawn mower can produce as much as 90 dB, and just a single hour’s exposure to this level of noise could result in some degree of permanent auditory impairment. Imagine how you might fare as a member of the ground staff at a busy international airport where the noise of a jet plane taking off can hit 140 dB.

Hearing loss is progressive and those at risk should not hesitate to book a consultation Unfortunately, those affected rarely become aware of their condition until others draw their attention to details, such as a frequent need to repeat themselves in conversation, or that the volume on the TV may be set uncomfortably high. The sooner any impairment is detected, the more effectively it can be managed, and any further deterioration slowed.

In practice we are all at risk of NIHL, and that risk is often greater in young people, given their tendency to listen incessantly to music played at full volume on an iPod or similar devise. So, what exactly should you expect when you book a hearing test? Firstly, if you should choose one of the Ear Institute clinics, you will not require a referral, so you can just phone for an appointment. Thereafter, you can look forward to receiving expert care at the hands of an experienced, qualified healthcare professional with access to state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment.

Your audiologist will begin with a physical examination of your ears to rule out any medical condition that might be better referred to your GP or an ENT specialist. In the absence of such contra-indications, he or she will then proceed to perform an audiogram, a standard procedure when you book a consultation. This will involve listening for a tone of increasing volume at various frequencies and indicating when they first become audible to you by pressing a button. Each press produces a point on a graph of volume vs frequency, thus highlighting any regions of auditory impairment. From the data recorded, the audiologist can determine whether you may require an assisted hearing device, and tune it to compensate for loss of audition at the affected frequencies identified in the audiogram.

If you are experiencing difficulties discerning certain sounds, it may be time to book a consultation for a hearing test at your nearest Ear Institute clinic.
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