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World Hearing Day: How a Hearing Test Could Prevent Sensorineural Hearing Loss

By 2035, one in five of us will have it, according to the UK Government. It’s on the rise and it affects people of all ages, young and old. That’s why this year on March 3rd, World Hearing Day, the World Health Organisation is raising awareness with a call to action: “Check your hearing!”

Getting your hearing checked by an audiologist is the first step towards preserving your hearing health. Before we dive into what a hearing test involves, it helps to know a little about the main causes and some of the signs to look out for.

What causes hearing loss?

There are 2 main types: conductive and sensorineural. Conductive is when sounds can’t pass through the outer or middle ear, typically due to a blockage or an infection. This is usually reversible.

Sensorineural hearing loss, on the other hand, is most often not reversible but can be effectively managed. It results from damage to the inner ear or the nerve that connects your inner ear to the brain. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Exposure to loud noises, such as power tools, lawnmowers and music concerts
  • Medical conditions, including diabetes, high blood pressure, Ménière’s disease and stroke
  • Head trauma
  • Infections, including measles, mumps and meningitis
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Family history
  • Aging

What are the signs?

There are several signs you can look out for if you’re worried:

  • Trouble following conversations, especially against background noise
  • Conversations sounding muffled
  • Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds
  • Frequent headaches
  • Pain or throbbing in your ear
  • Buzzing, ringing or whooshing sounds that only you can hear
  • Dizziness

If any of these signs sound familiar, then it is even more important that you get your hearing checked as soon as possible. Getting to the bottom of the issue means you can get treatment promptly to improve your hearing ability, prevent further damage and avoid the physical, social and emotional consequences of untreated hearing loss, including cognitive decline, isolation and depression.

How does a hearing test work?

A hearing test involves several steps, the first being a physical examination of your ears using an otoscope, a medical instrument that allows an audiologist to look inside your ear canal.

Your hearing ability can then be tested using pure tone audiometry.  During this test sounds of different pitches and loudness will be played into your ear. You will be asked to signal when you hear each sound by raising your hand or pressing a button. Each ear will be tested separately.

This test is often carried out twice, once using headphones and once using a special device called a bone oscillator, which is placed against the bone behind your ear. The results of these tests are plotted on a graph called an audiogram, which your Audiologist will explain to you.

While regular hearing tests with an experienced audiologist are the best way to catch loss of hearing in it’s early stages, you can keep track of your hearing health in between appointments using the hearWHO app. Developed by the World Health Organisation especially for World Hearing Day this year, the app mimics speech-in-noise environments to test your hearing ability.

What should you do next?

Now you know what to expect at a hearing test, it’s time to book one. Call us or request your appointment online  today with our experienced audiologist at London Hearing Specialist, Anshul Morjaria. Once your hearing test is complete, Anshul will present you with all your treatment options, including hearing aids, so you can enjoy healthy hearing for longer.