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Healthy ears ensure good quality of life, facilitate communication, and strengthen our relationships with others. However, the human ear is the most sensitive organ in the body and its performance may be affected by exposure to noise, or simply with age. If you think that your hearing may have changed, we recommend a hearing evaluation assessment. It doesn’t take long and will give you peace of mind.

Should I have a hearing test?

The first signs of hearing loss usually occur after the age of 50, although children and young adults may also be affected by impaired hearing. After many years of hearing overload, sounds with frequencies in excess of more than 2,000 to 5,000 Hz are usually the first to be lost. This frequency is barely perceptible to the human ear, and therefore affects only the outer limits of the speaking range. Consequently, gradual onset hearing loss is barely noticed at first, but becomes more visible when subsequent signs of hearing loss accumulate. Acknowledging the presence of hearing loss is not always easy, but it’s the first step towards improving the situation.
The issue is often apparent to partners or other relatives, while those affected continue to think that the situation has remained unchanged.

In terms of managing hearing loss; the sooner the better. Leaving hearing loss unmanaged may have serious consequences, such as social isolation, anxiety and depression. To be on the safe side, it’s recommended that you include a hearing test in your annual personal health check-ups.

Our 3-minute online hearing test will give you an initial idea of your hearing ability.
 

Self-evaluation questions:

If you or others think that your hearing may have deteriorated, you can easily check it before going to a clinician for a hearing test.
 
Answering the following questions can give you an initial idea of how well you can hear:
Conversation
  • Are speech and sounds loud enough, but unclear?
  • Do you have the feeling that people are mumbling or speaking inaudibly?
  • Do you often have to ask others to speak more loudly during conversation?
Specific situations
  • Do you have difficulties understanding everything on the telephone?
  • Do you prefer sitting at the front for presentations or at the theater?
  • Do you find it difficult to follow discussions in large groups?
  • Is it even more difficult when there is a lot of background noise?
  • Do you find small talk – or casual chatting – stressful rather than relaxing?
  • Do you no longer look forward to celebrations and events?
Everyday life
  • Do people sometimes ask you why your TV is on so loud?
  • Do you sometimes fail to hear the doorbell or telephone?
  • Do you feel like there are fewer and fewer birds singing outside?
  • As a pedestrian, are you sometimes startled by cars driving past because you have not heard them coming?
  • Do you sometimes or always have noises in your ear, such as tinnitus?
Giving honest answers will provide a more accurate indication of your hearing ability.
 
If you answered "Yes" to more than two questions, you may be experiencing hearing loss, and could benefit from visiting one of our clinicians for an initial test.

What happens during a hearing test?

The clinician will first ask you a series questions. For example: Why do you think your hearing is deteriorating? Are you exposed to very loud noises at work? An initial assessment will be made on the based on your answers. 
 
A hearing test generally takes place in a soundproof room or cabin booth. Sounds with different frequencies are played to you through headphones. These sounds cover the frequency range from 125 to 8,000 Hertz (i.e. from very low to very high). They are played individually in each ear and start very quietly, in a range that cannot be heard, and then slowly increasing in volume. You will be asked to indicate as soon as you hear the sound using a button or a key provided to you.
At the end of this test, the same test may be performed with vibrations on the skull. This will determine whether there is any damage to the middle ear.

Hearing tests are evaluated using an audiogram. This show sounds on a scale and provides information on the hearing threshold level in decibels. Your clinician can then determine the frequencies at which there are deviations from normal hearing. This not only helps to diagnose different types of hearing loss, but also to identify a suitable hearing aid. Finally, your clinician will recommend that you test various hearing aids so that you can check and find which model is best for you.
 
Click here for further information on audiograms.

Tips to reduce stress

Many people are very anxious at the thought of a hearing test.  Partially because they don’t know what to expect, and because they are worried about the result.

Anxiety may have a negative impact on the results in both cases. How quickly a sound is recognised depends on the responsiveness, but also on your condition on the day of the test, i.e. whether you are well rested, stressed, or tired.

Give yourself plenty of time and try to arrive for your hearing test in a relaxed frame of mind. Ask someone to come with you, to help keep you calm and to help you remember information that is shared by the clinician.

Here are a few tips to help you feel less anxious before the test:

  • Listen to an explanation of the procedure while in a quiet setting.
  • Press the button before the start of the test to practice.
  • Ensure that the headphones are well positioned. Remove your glasses if needed, or tuck your hair behind your ears.
  • Try to breathe steadily and sit as comfortably as possible.
  • The speed at which the tone becomes louder can be slowed down. The intervals between the tones can also be increased. Don't be afraid to request a slower pace.
  • Any of the tests can be repeated.

How often should I have a hearing test?

Regular hearing check-ups are important, as hearing loss can occur if your hearing is not trained.  and we recommend having a hearing test once a year as a precaution. Regular hearing tests can determine whether and how much your hearing has changed. The longer hearing loss remains unmanaged, the longer and harder it will be for your hearing to improve once you start wearing hearing aids as your brain rebuilds the auditory pathways.
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Tips for relatives – How you can help

You can support your loved ones with hearing problems by:
  • Finding out about the symptoms that might occur with hearing loss.
  • If you notice signs of hearing problems in a friend or partner, speak to them about it in a quiet environment. Offer to help them with the next steps, or do an online hearing test together.
  • If hearing loss has been identified and a hearing aid has been fitted, you can support the person in their decision-making about the hearing aid and when they start wearing it. Doubts may arise in the familiarisation phase, so your encouragement can help!
  • Speaking clearly, distinctly, and slowly, face to face, makes it easier for people with hearing loss to understand you. Try to keep this in mind. If the person you are speaking to does not understand, try rephrasing what you said rather than repeating the same words. Patience and understanding are the best ways to help at this time.

Other topics

What is an audiogram?
What should I expect when I visit an audiologist?
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