Signs and Symptoms
If you agree with any of the following, you could benefit from a full diagnostic hearing test with a qualified audiologist:
- At meetings I have to strain to hear.
- I have difficulty hearing when I’m in a conversation with one or two people.
- I find it hard to hear in groups, especially with background noise.
- Often I have to ask people to repeat things.
- I have to turn up the TV volume louder than others prefer.
- Sometimes I mishear or do not understand what people are saying to me.
If any of the above apply to you it is likely that a hearing loss is affecting your life. The first step in treating a hearing loss is to acknowledge that it exists, then to arrange a hearing assessment.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
Usually hearing loss is gradual and painless; it just creeps up on us over time. It’s universal across all people, wherever they live in the world, whatever occupation they have. It can be caused by –
- The aging process we all experience.
- Exposure to loud noise – MP3 players, power tools such as lawnmowers and chainsaws, industrial machinery, rock concerts, etc
- Inherited medical conditions
- Traumatic injury
- Sometimes, & very infrequently hearing loss is due to a tumour or some ototoxic medications.
3 Types of Hearing Loss
Sensorineural – Inner Ear
Deterioration of the way the cochlea works in transmitting signals (nerve impulses) that we understand as intelligible sounds. The causes include aging and exposure to loud noise and results from damage to the tiny sensory or ‘hair cells’ which do not regenerate making the hearing loss permanent.
Conductive – Middle Ear
This is when the eardrum, bones and membranes don’t transmit vibrations properly to the inner ear (cochlea). Causes can be traumatic injuries to the head, birth defects or conditions such as otosclerosis – which is often an inherited condition. Also often caused by ‘glue ear’ or fluid in the middle ear and is common in young children. This type of hearing loss is usually temporary and can sometimes be treated medically.
Combined Hearing Loss
A mixture of inner ear (sensorineural) and middle ear (conductive) hearing loss. Note: 90% of hearing loss in adults is due to inner ear damage affecting both ears.The usual treatment is the fitting of hearing aids to both ears.
This is a very common cause of hearing loss in New Zealand. This loss is permanent. Workers in such occupations as the building trades, farming, forestry, engineering, earthmoving, are at particular risk of developing permanent hearing loss.
Such hearing loss develops gradually over time, often quite a number of years. It may also be indicated by ringing in the ears or Tinnitus. Amongst this group of people the most common complaint is not being able to hear in social situations.
Hearing tests are quick – less than 1 hour usually, painless, and quite comfortable because they are non-intrusive. The results of listening to sounds through headphones for example, allows a Qualified Audiologist to analyse the type and extent of hearing loss using sophisticated computer software.
The tests take place in a sound-treated environment and measure the ear’s ability to hear pure sounds; speech testing is done to check your understanding of words at different sound levels. Also checked is the ear’s conductive performance.
If you were referred to the Audiologist by a health professional, your written test results will be sent to the doctor or medical specialist.
The Hearing Test fee may be covered by your medical insurance policy, in full or in part or by Accident Compensation Corporation, or other government assistance program. Your Audiologist can advise you on checking what you are entitled to.
To arrange an appointment for a Hearing Test, simply contact Lifestyle Audiology. It isn’t necessary to be referred by your doctor.