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Hearing test

What are the different types of hearing loss?

There are three main types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss: When sound is not able to get through the outer and middle ear. This can be from fluid in the ears, ear infection, poor ear tube function, earwax buildup, an object that stuck in the outer ear, or an issue with how your middle ear is formed.

  • Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL): This type of loss occurs when the hair cells in the inner ear and/or nerves that link the inner ear with the brain are damaged. This is the most common type of hearing loss. This could be caused by illness, exposure to loud noise, gene mutation, or side effects from certain treatments such as cancer treatment.

  • Mixed hearing loss: This is a mixture of SNHL and conductive hearing loss. It is caused by damage to both the outer or middle ear and damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. Among the causes are age, disease, some medications, working in noisy environments, earwax buildup, trauma to the head, and conditions at birth.

What are the signs of hearing loss?

Symptoms and signs linked to hearing loss may include:

  • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears

  • Difficulty with hearing consonants

  • Sounds and speech sounding muffled

  • Turning up the TV or radio to hear it better

What causes hearing loss?

There are a number of causes of hearing loss that include:

  • Age-related hearing loss and genetics: The inner ear framework may weaken over time.

  • Damage from being exposed to loud noise for a sustained period of time.

  • Loud sounds or blasts: Also known as acoustic trauma, this can occur from an explosion or gunshot. Though rare, these loud sounds may tear your eardrum.

  • Illness: Otosclerosis, Ménière's disease, and some autoimmune diseases can cause hearing loss.

  • Medication: Some cancer drugs, diuretics, and antibiotics may cause hearing issues as well as too much aspirin.

  • Ear infections: This can lead not only to hearing loss but to a ruptured eardrum.

  • Earwax buildup: This is a gradual process that over time can prevent sound waves from conducting inside the ear.

How can I test my hearing at home?

You may consider booking a telehealth visit with an audiologist to take a hearing screening from an audiologist or professonal well-versed in diagnosing and treating hearing loss. Your provider may ask you to find a quiet space to take the test with and may require the use of earphones. Book a telehealth hearing test appointment with an audiologist today with Sesame and receive quality care from the comfort of your home.

What are the advantages of an online hearing assessment test?

Whether you have good hearing or have concerns about hearing loss taking a professional hearing test is as easy as ever. Online assessment hearing tests are a new form of telehealth that allows you to understand your own hearing threshold. This may be a helpful option if an in-person session is:

- Unsafe (due to social distancing guidelines, for instance)

- Inconvenient (based on work or life schedule that doesn't allow for a trip to the doctor)

- Impossible (such as not being able to leave the house due to illness or social anxiety disorder)

What happens during an online hearing assessment test?

A hearing assessment test is pain-free and non-invasive. It can be done in an audiology office or from the comfort of your own home. With telehealth options available, getting a hearing test couldn't be easier.

Because you are taking the test from home, try to find a quiet area with little to no background noise.

You will likely answer an evaluation about your hearing ability and may fill out forms such as a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability) to protect your personal data.

Before you begin your test you may be asked to wear headphones and/or adjust your sound level. Your doctor may give you one or more assessment tests (tone test, noise test, etc.) which will help your provider get a thorough evaluation of your current hearing ability and potential hearing loss.

When the assessment or tests are complete, your health care provider will go over the audiogram results with you and discuss treatment options if they are needed.

What happens during an in-person hearing test?

There is no need to prepare for your hearing test. To ensure you get the most accurate results, try your best to stay quiet and still during the test.

You may begin your visit with the audiologist by answering a questionnaire, and or receiving a hearing screening. Your audiologist may perform different tests including a hearing screening, pure tone audiometry test, a word recognition test, and/or a tympanometry test.

During your hearing screening, you will hear different sounds depending on which test you are receiving.

When the test or tests are complete, your health care provider will go over the audiogram results with you and discuss treatment options if they are needed.

What are the different types of hearing tests?

There are a handful of common hearing tests that a health care provider may conduct. These include:

- Hearing screening: This is a basic test that may help your health care professional decide if further testing is needed.

- Pure tone audiometry test: Often performed in a soundproof room, you will use a set of earphones connected to a machine that delivers different tones and sounds of speech to one ear at a time. Your health care provider may ask you to raise your associated hand, left hand for the left ear and right hand for the right ear, depending on where you hear the noise. This test can check to see what the softest, or least audible noises and the loudest decibels you can hear.

- Word recognition test: This test, also known as the speech discrimination test, can figure out your ability to discern speech from background noise. This type of test is useful in determining whether or not the use of a hearing aid is a helpful form of treatment.

- Tympanometry test: This is an exam that tests the middle ear for hearing health. This type of test is often used for children. By testing the movement in your tympanic membrane, this test can help find fluid in the middle ear, detect a middle ear infection, or discover any tears.

What are some treatment options for hearing loss?

After a hearing evaluation, your doctor may provide a plan that includes treatment. There are many options for a better hearing based on your particular case of hearing loss. These include:

  • Earwax removal: Using a small instrument called a curet, your doctor can remove excess earwax.

  • Cochlear implants: This is a 2-piece electronic device that is placed both on the outside of the ear as well as a second piece that is inserted under the skin that can help bypass portions of the ear that are damaged. Though this option may give a deaf person an idea of the sounds around her/him it does not restore normal hearing tot he ear.

  • Hearing aids: This option is helpful if you have hearing loss caused by damage to your inner ear. There are many fits and styles of hearing aids. Speak with your health care provider about which option is best for you.

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