Hearing Link

Your hearing test

a patient being fitted with a hearing aid

It can be really helpful during a hearing aid consultation to have someone with you who knows you very well, such as a family member.

Your audiologist or registered hearing aid audiologist will give you information about the hearing aid to take home with you, but having another person there during the consultation may be beneficial.

Being accompanied during a consultation can be very reassuring. There can also be a lot to remember from a consultation and two heads can be better than one.

Watch Kim having a hearing test

Thanks to Hear-it

What are the most important things to discuss at a consultation?

There are quite a number of important things to discuss with your audiologist or registered hearing aid audiologist.

You should discuss all of the issues you have with your hearing and whether you also experience other hearing-related problems such as tinnitus (noises in the head or ears), balance issues, or pain in the ears. It’s important to discuss the situations in which you experience difficulty in hearing clearly. Before this consultation you should have your ear canals examined to ensure that they are healthy and free of any excessive ear wax. After hearing tests have been undertaken, you should be given the option to discuss the results so that you understand your hearing levels.

What you can do to prepare:

  • Think about situations that you find difficult to hear and communicate in
  • Name the people it is most important for you to communicate with
  • Think about why it is important for you to improve your hearing
  • Talk to your partner or children about how well you communicate today
  • Think about what you will do if the hearing test is positive
  • Use these tools from the Ida Institute to help you plan your appointment

What happens in a hearing test?

Wherever you have your hearing assessed, the kind of tests you’ll do are likely to be similar. The first tests used are called audiometry and take about 20 minutes. They’ll include being played clicks or other sounds through a headset and measuring your ear’s response. This is done with one ear and then the other, as the results can be different. You may also have sensors placed on your head and neck to check the response of nerves. There may be other tests after this.

Your hearing test results

Sound is measured in two key ways:

  • volume – measured in decibels (dB)
  • pitch (whether it’s high or low) – measured in hertz (Hz)

Your audiologist will probably refer to these two things when they explain the results of your test to you. The test results will be plotted on a graph called an audiogram. You may not be shown your audiogram and (and you don’t need to worry about understanding it if you are). If you do want to see yours, it’s best to ask on the day of your test. Your hearing threshold is the quietest sound you can hear. It’s measured in decibels (dB). Take a look at the table below to see how different levels of hearing loss are defined:

Hearing level Threshold Examples
Normal hearing -10 to 20 dB Rustling leaves, quiet whispering
Mild hearing loss 21 to 40 dB Computer fan, loud whispering
Moderate hearing loss 41 to 70 dB Rainfall, normal conversation
Severe hearing loss 71 to 95 dB Vacuum cleaner, smoke alarm, lawn mower, shouting
Profound hearing loss 96 dB or higher An orchestra playing loudly

Hearing thresholds showing volume of different sounds in decibels

Diagram showing hearing thresholdsWhat level of service should I expect from an audiologist or registered hearing aid audiologist?

You should expect a professional, caring and totally personalised service. You should expect such a professional to assess the health of your ears, to perform hearing tests, to understand how your reduced hearing sensitivity and any other hearing-related conditions are affecting your life as well as asking you about your expectations from hearing aids.

Any prescribed hearing aids will be fitted after they have been personalised and programmed for you. The fitting will be accompanied by helpful and important information and advice; such as how to become accustomed to how your new hearing aids. You will also have an explanation about the aftercare services which should be available to you.

What should I expect when I first get hearing aids?

What you experience is very much dependent upon your hearing loss and how much you wear your hearing aid(s).

Your brain will begin to register sounds that it has not heard well for some time. This means that you may feel tired by listening or overwhelmed by new noises. However, with persistent use of your new hearing aid(s) your brain learns to recognise the new sounds and they become less obvious. It is important to persevere with your hearing aids during this early stage.

Your audiologist or registered hearing aid audiologist will advise you on the best technique for getting used to your hearing aids.

Can I arrange a hearing test or consultation for a house-bound relative?

Home hearing tests and consultations can be provided for those who are house-bound. A GP referral may be required before an NHS audiologist can visit your home for this purpose.

Will having limited dexterity affect how I am able to use hearing aids?

Discuss your concerns about dexterity with your audiologist or registered hearing aid audiologist. They may be able to offer hearing aids with features which make it easier to manipulate or more simple to use.

If dexterity is very limited, find someone you know and trust who can help you to put on your hearing aid each day. Ideally, this person will have been with you at your hearing aid consultation.

Carers can be encouraged to consider putting on a hearing aid as part of the ‘dressing’ routine they may be employed to assist with.

What if my GP won’t refer me for a test?

It is possible that your GP will say that your hearing doesn’t need to be tested. They may even say that hearing loss is inevitable and that you should learn to live with it. Stand your ground! If you think you have a problem with your hearing, then you do. Ask for a referral for a full hearing test. If you’re still not happy with your GP’s assessment, you can ask another doctor for a second opinion. You could also book a hearing test with a private audiologist (lots of places can provide a free initial test, so you can check whether anything’s wrong).

More on having a hearing test from the Hear-it website.

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