Noticing a Change in the Way You Hear? Come in for a Test
Hearing loss is one of the most common disabilities in the United States, affecting about 50 million Americans. Not surprisingly, hearing loss tends to become more common with age, often after years of exposure to loud noises.
Though it might be tempting to ignore early signs of hearing loss as “just a natural part of aging,” the fact is, hearing loss is never normal. Delaying treatment has been associated with serious medical and lifestyle issues, including increased risks of:
- Social isolation
That’s pretty alarming, but there is some good news: Hearing loss is treatable — and today’s hearing assistive devices are tinier, more effective, and more discreet than ever before. At Medical Access, our team performs comprehensive hearing tests for patients at our six practices in Maryland and Virginia.
If you’ve noticed a change in your hearing, here's how a hearing test could help.
Common causes of hearing loss
Although some people are born with hearing loss, most hearing loss problems are acquired, which means they develop gradually over time. Most age-related hearing loss happens when tiny nerve cells inside your ear become damaged. These cells help you hear by carrying signals from your eardrum to your brain, where the signals are “translated” into the sounds we hear. When the nerve cells are damaged, those signals are unable to reach the brain, or only part of the signals are transmitted.
The result: Noises sound garbled, muffled, or indistinct, or you may not be able to hear high- or low-pitched noises. Some people can hear relatively well in a quiet space, but they’re unable to hear clearly when they’re in a noisier environment.
When it’s time for a hearing test
Because hearing loss tends to be a gradual process, the symptoms can be subtle. Generally speaking, you should consider a hearing test if you have notice any of these changes or symptoms:
- Needing to raise the volume on your phone, radio, or TV
- Problems following conversations
- Difficulty hearing in noisy environments
- Asking people to repeat themselves
- Needing to face people to understand what they’re saying
- Problems listening to multiple people at one time
- Ringing or buzzing sounds in your ears
In addition to age-related hearing loss, some people can have problems hearing because of a buildup of earwax or as a side effect of certain medications. During your office visit, we’ll ask about underlying medical conditions and medications, and of course, we’ll examine your ears for wax or other obstructions.
Hearing test basics: What to expect
Hearing tests are simple and pain-free, so there’s no need to be nervous about having one. Testing involves listening to a series of sounds through headphones.
There are two main parts to your test. In the first part, you’ll hear a series of sounds of varying loudness and pitch (including sounds running from very low pitches or very high pitches). During your test, you’ll be asked to confirm when you hear a tone, so we can determine which pitches and volumes are causing hearing difficulties. Sounds are played in each ear, one at a time, to determine if one ear “hears better” than the other.
The second part of the test is similar, but it uses voices instead of tones. The voices will start at very low tones, gradually increasing in loudness. After each recording, you’ll be asked to repeat the words you’ve heard. This test can also incorporate background noises during speech, since many people have problems hearing in noisy spaces.
Having your hearing tested is an important part of staying well, especially as you get older. With locations in Germantown, Rockville, and Beltsville, Maryland, and Alexandria, Woodbridge, and McLean, Virginia, Medical Access makes taking care of your hearing easy and convenient. To schedule your test, call our team, or book an appointment online today.