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Are You Losing Your Hearing? Getting Screened

hearing loss
Photo by NCVO London (Flickr)

If you think you may be losing your hearing, the first thing you should do is get a hearing screening test. After all, the whole point of going through a hearing screening test is to determine whether or not you have hearing loss and to identify if further evaluation is warranted. Hearing screening tests also establish the need for hearing aids or other hearing assistive devices. Hearing tests are often pass/fail, and if you’re losing your hearing, you will fail. If it’s found that patients are failing hearing screening tests, a professional may either recommend more testing or move right on to accommodating a patience’s hearing loss through the use of hearing aids.

Screening Tests for Adults vs. Children

Depending on the age of the individual being tested, there can be little difference between hearing screening for adults and hearing screening for children over the age of six years old. Screening for hearing loss in adults and older children typically consists of sitting in a soundproof booth with a headset over your ears and listening to different tones in each ear. This type of testing is called pure-tone testing and can help determine if there is hearing loss in one or both ears as well as the actual range of hearing loss found. This can help determine what type of hearing aid is needed to compensate for the hearing loss discovered.

Screening for Hearing Loss in Young Children

There are major differences between hearing screening for adults and hearing screening for very young children. For children between six months and two years old, visual reinforcement audiometry is typically used. For this type of testing, the child is trained to look toward the source of the sound and rewarded with some type of visual stimulation, typically a toy that moves or a short video clip that they like. Another type of testing for very young children (typically between two and five years old) is called conditioned play audiometry. This particular method trains a child to perform a certain action, such as putting one block on top of another, when they hear a certain tone. The downside of this type of test is that it cannot determine specifically if there is an issue with one ear or both. So if hearing loss is determined using this method, the next type of test is typically a bone conduction hearing test, in which each year can be tested independently of the other.

What Happens After the Initial Screening?

After the initial screening for hearing loss, if hearing loss is found, the next type of test is typically some type of speech testing. In this type of testing, the audiologist observes and records an individual’s ability to repeat back words at a comfortable volume. The test also records the faintest level of speech that the individual is able to hear. All of these results are used to confirm the findings recorded during the pure-tone testing. It is also common to perform this test in a noisy environment in order to determine how that environment affects an individual’s ability to hear specific words. After all, the number one complaint concerning hearing loss is not being able to hear what is being said in an environment with lots of background noise.

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