Hearing Examinations Can Uncover More Than Hearing Loss

Image of woman getting hearing test with the results superimposed.

Hearing tests provide important information about your health. Because ears are so sensitive, hearing tests can potentially detect early signs of other health problems. What will you discover from a hearing evaluation?

What is a Hearing Exam?

There are various kinds of hearing tests, but the basic assessment involves putting on earphones and listening to a series of sounds. In order to discover the depth of your hearing loss, the hearing specialist will play the tones at different volumes and pitches.

Another typical hearing test includes listening to words in one ear and repeating them back to make sure you were capable of interpreting sounds correctly. In some cases, this test is intentionally done with background sound to find out whether that affects your hearing. Tests are usually done in each ear separately to get a proper measurement for each side.

What do Hearing Test Results Indicate?

Whether someone has hearing loss, and the extent of it, is what the normal hearing test determines. Adults with minor hearing loss, 25 decibels or less, are considered to have normal hearing. At this point, hearing specialists gauge hearing loss as:

  • Moderate
  • Severe
  • Profound
  • Mild
  • Moderate to severe

The decibel level of the hearing loss defines the level of impairment.

What Else do Hearing Tests Determine?

There are also test which can evaluate the viability of structures of the middle ear such as the eardrum, how clearly a person hears with background noise, the threshold of air and bone conduction, and the type of hearing loss.

Other health concerns can also be revealed by a hearing test like:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis. Research reveals that people with RA are as much as 300 percent more likely to have hearing loss.
  • Diabetes. It’s thought that too much sugar in the blood can damage blood vessels including the one that goes to the inner ear.
  • Paget’s disease, which can cause extreme headaches and pain in the joints and bones.
  • Otosclerosis, which if diagnosed early can possibly be reversed.
  • Heart and circulation issues. The inner ear has one blood vessel, and that makes it more sensitive to changes in blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Meniere’s disease and other issues with dizziness and vertigo.

The hearing specialist will take all the insight revealed by hearing exams and use it to figure out whether you are suffering from:

  • Injury from chronic disease or infections
  • Unusual bone growths
  • A different medical issue like high blood pressure causing hearing loss
  • Injury from trauma
  • Damage caused by exposure to ototoxic chemicals or medications, loud noises
  • Age related hearing loss
  • Tumors

After you discover why you have loss of hearing, you can try to find ways to manage it and to take care of your overall health.

A preemptive plan to decrease the risks caused by loss of hearing will be formulated by the specialist after evaluating the results of the test.

If You Ignore Hearing Loss, What Are The Risks?

Medical science is starting to understand how quality of life and health are impacted by loss of hearing. Researchers from Johns Hopkins examined 636 individuals over 12 years. They found that those with loss of hearing have a greater risk of dementia. The more significant the hearing loss, the higher the risk.

According to this study, a person with mild loss of hearing has twice the risk of dementia. A moderate loss means three times the risk, and severe hearing impairment increases the risk by five.

There is evidence of social decline with hearing loss, as well. People will avoid discussions if they have trouble following them. That can lead to more alone time and less time with family and friends.

A hearing test might explain a recent bout of fatigue, also. In order to comprehend what you hear, the brain needs to do work. When there is hearing loss, it will have to work harder to detect sound and translate it. Your left feeling tired all the time as your other senses are robbed of energy.

Finally, the National Council on Aging reports there is a clear correlation between depression and loss of hearing, especially age-related hearing loss when it is left untreated.

Treating hearing loss, with hearing aids or other hearing technology, can eliminate or minimize these risks, and the initial step for correct treatment is a hearing test.

A professional hearing test is a pain-free and safe way to find out a lot about your hearing and your health, so why are you waiting to schedule your appointment?

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