What Happens During A Hearing Test?
Finding yourself regularly missing parts of conversations, struggling to differentiate words among background noise, or having to repeatedly ask others to speak slowly, clearly, or loudly can feel very concerning, while making social situations difficult or uncomfortable. This is where booking a hearing test is a great first step to gaining clarity about your hearing, as well as the health of your ears.
Here at Kevin Paisley Hearing, our experienced hearing care professionals offer an advanced hearing assessment to assess your overall ear health, uncover the underlying cause of your hearing concerns, and create a tailored management plan to help.
How Do You Know If You Should Have A Hearing Test?
Hearing loss affects about 3.6 million people of all ages in Australia, and more than 1.3 million of these have a hearing condition that could have been prevented if it had been promptly assessed and treated. Given the importance of hearing in our everyday life and work, if you’ve had any alarm bells go off that have made you concerned about your hearing, this is usually enough to warrant having your hearing investigated - as hearing is not something that most people have to consciously make an effort to maintain.
The journey to a hearing test looks different for everyone. We have some patients come in that have noticed very recent changes in their hearing, such as an increase in muffled sounds, or ringing in their ears. Others reveal that they have been quietly struggling with their hearing for years, but with regular mask-wearing in recent times, they are no longer able to naturally and sometimes unintentionally default to reading lips to help overcome this challenge. From our professional perspective, it is never too late to book a hearing assessment and get the help you need.
Some signs that you may need to have your hearing checked can include:
- - A ringing sensation in the ears (tinnitus)
- - The people around you often tell you that you talk too loudly
- - You need to ask people to repeat what they have said
- - Others complain that you turn the volume up too high on the TV
- - You find it hard to hear conversations, especially when there is background noise
Signs Your Child May Have Hearing Loss
While identifying our own hearing decline is one thing, being able to detect whether your child may have hearing loss, particularly if they don’t know what is and isn’t normal, is another. Unfortunately, hearing loss from a young age can make it more challenging for a child to listen, learn and talk while impacting their social interactions. While we perform testing on children aged above 5 years old, here are some signs you can look out for:
- - Not startling at loud noises, like a slamming door
- - Not turn to the source of a sound, whether that’s a person or an object, after six months old
- - Not saying single words, such as “dada” or “mama” by one year of age
- - Turning their head when they see you but not if you call out their name out of sight. This is sometimes mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss
- - Seeming to hear some sounds but not others
- - Delayed speech
- - Unclear speech
- - Difficulty following directions. This is sometimes mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss.
- - Often says, “huh?” or asks you to repeat what you’ve said
- - Listens to the TV with the volume on a very high level
What Happens During A Hearing Test?
Hearing loss can have a range of causes, and everyone’s experience of hearing loss is unique. In order to find the best solution for your circumstances, we take a holistic approach and conduct a number of tests as part of our hearing assessment. Here's a look into what you can expect with us:
1. Consultation With A Hearing Care Professional
One of our trained hearing care professionals will start by taking a detailed medical and health history. They’ll discuss your concerns, the events that may have affected your hearing, and any other relevant information.
2. Ear Examination
Next, they will use an illuminated instrument called an otoscope, to look inside your ears. We will search for any problems in the ear canal or with the eardrum itself that may be affecting your hearing. Common problems that can be found in the ear canal can include a build-up of wax, damage to the eardrum, an infection or inflammation, and many more.
3. Comprehensive Hearing Assessments
Next, we perform relevant hearing assessments based on what you need and what we have uncovered so far. These tests may include:
- - Audiogram: An audiogram takes place in a quiet, sound-treated room or booth to ensure no outside noise interferes with your testing to ensure accurate results. You'll put on a pair of headphones and undergo a ‘pure tone’ test. This is where a small machine, called an audiometer, beeps at different volumes and frequencies, and you'll be asked to press a button or raise your hand when you can hear each sound. Wearing earphones lets us measure the hearing of one ear at a time.
- - Bone Conduction Test: A bone conduction test is similar to a pure-tone test. You will wear a small device called an oscillator on your Mastoid bone, located behind your ear. The oscillator gently vibrates and sends sound directly into the cochlea in your inner ear. You will be asked once again to indicate each time you hear a beep, and your hearing care professional will record your results.
- - Tympanogram: A tympanogram changes the pressure within your middle ear. A small probe with a soft rubber tip may be placed in your ear - the probe acts as a soft plug sealing your ear canal and creates pressure changes to observe how well your eardrum moves.
- - Speech Test: A speech test is occasionally used to measure how well you hear and understand an ordinary conversation. It's similar to a pure tone test, except you'll listen to recorded words spoken at different volumes and then be asked to repeat what you hear.
4. Discussion Of Results And Treatment Options
Our hearing care professionals will chart the results of your assessments for each ear on an audiogram, to assess the degree of your hearing loss, and which part of your ear is affected. We will discuss your results with you and provide tailored treatment options to improve your hearing and overall ear health.
If the results show that you could benefit from a hearing aid, we can discuss suitable technology and style options with you. Hearing aids have changed drastically over the years to keep up with technological advances, and now offer features such as:
- - Rechargeability on the go
- - Connectivity to phone and television
- - Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) masking feature
- - Fall detection
- - Translation and other AI features
Book Your Hearing Assessment Today
If you’re experiencing changes in your hearing, or have noticed anything that you’re concerned about, start booking a hearing assessment here.
How long does a hearing assessment take?
Your first visit with us is scheduled for 60 minutes.
What’s the difference between free hearing tests and a comprehensive hearing assessment?
What we have described above today is a comprehensive hearing assessment. In contrast, hearing tests are simple tests that normally take no more than 10 minutes, and can be performed by a nurse or a GP. This is simply a screening tool that can indicate that you may have hearing loss but cannot locate the cause or identify any underlying issues with your ears or hearing. These tests don’t normally take place in an environment that is sound-treated, and also cannot give you any treatment options as to what you should do next aside from recommending that you book a full diagnostic hearing test with a dedicated hearing care professional.
Can I bring a close friend or family member to my appointment?
Yes, we welcome any support person you wish to accompany to your appointments. It can be very helpful, as the hearing care expert can see how well you understand everyday speech from a close friend or loved one. It may also be less daunting to have a friendly face and calming voice at your first appointment. Plus, your loved one will have a better understanding of the challenges you’re facing and can help to voice some of the challenges that you might not be aware of.
How do you test hearing in babies and children?
We only offer hearing assessments for older children, aged over 5 years that have the capacity to follow instructions. Assessments for babies and young children are mostly offered within ENT departments of children’s hospitals.
Can I Get Funding For A Hearing Assessment?
The Australian Government Hearing Services Program provides eligible people with access to a wide range of fully subsidised hearing services and devices. You can check your eligibility for the program here.
You may also find support through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which provides veterans with hearing support, or the National Disability Insurance Scheme – this funds hearing support for NDIS participants aged 26 and over who are not eligible for the Hearing Services Programme.