Hearing loss is a complex problem with many contributing causes. While those who work with noise equipment or in noisy settings are particularly vulnerable, many people are affected by hereditary disorders such as Meniere’s disease, which can cause hearing loss. Furthermore, diseases such as diabetes and hypertension can exacerbate hearing loss. Hearing loss is most often caused by damage to the small inner hair cells that carry sound information from the ear to the brain.
Most of the time, this damage occurs gradually and progressively, and it frequently takes years or decades for the hearing loss to become apparent enough for people afflicted to contact their local hearing instrument specialist (HIS). Most of the time, these experts can accurately identify the reasons for hearing loss. The information gathered is then utilized to calibrate a hearing aid.
However, individuals with hearing loss may still read normally on a hearing test in very rare instances. Read on to find out more.
How Hearing Tests Work
A hearing test is one of the most frequent tools used by a HIS. In this case, the HIS employs a device known as an audiometer. The patient puts on headphones, and the HIS plays a sequence of sounds at various frequencies.
If the patient hears the sound, he or she will be instructed to press a button. If they are unable to hear anything, they do nothing. The results of this test are used to determine the degree of hearing loss, determine which frequencies can and cannot be heard and calibrate a hearing aid appropriately.
However, hearing loss can be concealed in certain instances, and individuals afflicted may pass the hearing test but still struggle to understand discussions in a noisy environment or follow the narrative of a TV program until the volume level is turned way up.
Hidden Hearing Loss
A hearing test is performed in a quiet environment while wearing noise-canceling headphones. It does not simulate real-life circumstances such as a noisy bar or restaurant where someone with hearing loss may have the greatest difficulty.
This means that occasionally people may have quite severe hearing loss as a consequence of inner ear hair cell destruction, yet everything seems normal in the context of a hearing test because the brain is overcompensating. As a result, they may be able to hear well enough in a hearing test to report the sound of a basic tone but not well enough to recognize a friend’s voice in a loud cafe.
The Importance of Comprehensive Testing
As we can see, although hearing testing is often quite accurate, it is not without flaws. As a result, most hearing instrument specialists will do further tests to determine the source and degree of hearing loss.
They will typically do a thorough examination of the inner ear using an otoscope, as well as a set of conductivity tests called Rinne and weber tests to assess air and bone conductivity, both of which play a significant role in hearing. They will do a tympanometry test to verify that the eardrum is moving correctly and that nothing is impeding proper conductivity. They’ll also check into your family and medical history to determine if there are any apparently unrelated problems that may be causing or exacerbating your hearing loss.
How Can You Increase Your Chances of Passing the Hearing Test?
Although you shouldn’t try to cheat the system, there are some things you can do to ensure you are ready to take it. First, make sure you had a good night’s sleep the night before. This will help you concentrate and stay calm throughout the exam. You should also have a nutritious breakfast to stay focused and prevent worrying about your stomach throughout the exam. After all, you want your mind to concentrate on what you hear, nothing else.
As you take the exam, try to stay calm and relaxed. Take a seat and do deep breathing exercises. This will help you in focusing on your breath rather than the outcome. You may also shut your eyes throughout the exam to help you concentrate on what you’re hearing. You will have fewer distractions throughout the exam since you will not be utilizing your eyes.