Could You Be in Need of a Professional Hearing Test?
Many of those who are now past their middle years may remember when a hearing test involved nothing more technical than the family doctor whispering phrases from the back of his consulting room and asking the patient to repeat them. Thankfully, much has changed since then, not only in terms of the manner in which such crucial evaluations are now conducted but also with regard to the individuals who, today, will normally be called upon to conduct them.
The advent of the audiometer, an instrument that was developed to determine the lowest volume at which a subject is able to detect a tone generated at several different frequencies, has made it possible to perform far more precise measurements of hearing impairment. In parallel, the implementation of this technology has led to the need for a new breed of healthcare professional, the audiologist. The latter is a specialist with the skills and the knowledge needed to conduct and to interpret this far more precise and highly specialised form of hearing test as well as to make informed recommendations with regard to the most suitable intervention in the light of his or her findings.
In addition to measuring the lower limits of auditory perception, it’s also necessary to differentiate between the various types of deafness that can occur. This will have an important influence upon the manner in which the impairment will have to be managed. Hearing loss may be allocated to one of three categories. It’s either the result of a malfunction in some section of the normal conductive pathway or of damage to the hair-like sensory cells that line the cochlea in the inner ear. When both conductive and sensorineural malfunction occurs in tandem, the condition is referred to simply as mixed deafness. For this purpose the audiologist uses the strategic placement of a vibrating tuning fork on the mastoid process and on the forehead in order to arrive at a reliable differential diagnosis.
While there are many reasons why one may experience a partial though temporary loss of hearing, the initial symptoms differ little from those of a more permanent impairment. Consequently arranging for a hearing test is a sensible precaution whenever there is cause for concern. The onset is often very gradual and it is frequently the friends and family of the person affected that are the first to become aware of the problem while he or she will steadfastly maintain that there is nothing wrong.
The most common signs to watch out for are other people complaining that you are constantly asking them to repeat themselves or claiming that the volume of your TV is far too high. Difficulty making out individual voices in a crowd or determining the direction from which a sound is coming are other tell-tale signs as is a persistent ringing in the ears known as tinnitus. Given any two of these symptoms, it could be time for a visit to one of The Ear Institute’s specialised audiology centres.
All of our centres make use of the latest audiometry equipment and are staffed by highly experienced and caring healthcare professionals. Your hearing is precious so don’t take any chances. If in doubt, just arrange a hearing test with The Ear Institute.