Hearing Health

An often overlooked part of a person’s overall health, hearing is nevertheless a crucial function to your overall health and well-being. Your hearing affects your physical and mental health, so it’s crucial to know and take all the necessary steps to ensure your hearing stays at a high level.

Preventing Hearing Loss

Hearing HealthHearing loss can be caused by multiple things, including age, genetics, and injury. However, the only fully preventable cause of hearing loss is noise-induced. Excess noise or listening to loud music for too long contributes to hearing loss in young people. Fortunately, anyone can make simple lifestyle changes to protect their hearing health. Be aware of your daily noise exposure, take listening breaks to rest your ears, keep the volume to a respectable level, and carry and use earplugs when needed. Once your hearing is gone, its gone, so you’re never too old or too young to take care of your hearing.

Types of Hearing Tests

Audiologists use a variety of hearing tests to determine if there is hearing loss in an individual, and if so, the severity of the case. These include:

  • Middle ear: The middle ear test aims to assess the function of the middle ear by examining how well the eardrum reacts to varyingHearing Health pressure in the ear canal. Hearing ability directly correlates to eardrum sensitivity. There are three types of middle ear tests: Tympanometry (tests how well the eardrum moves using a probe); acoustic reflex measures (records strength of middle ear’s reflex to a loud sound); and static acoustic impedance (measures volume of air in the ear canal to check for a perforated or ruptured eardrum and for fluid behind the eardrum).
  • Pure-tone: The well-known pure-tone test requires the patient to wear earphones and raise a hand, press a button, or say “yes” each time a beep is heard. The results are a graph or audiogram that show your hearing threshold, the quietest sound the individual can hear at frequencies. If fluid or wax is blocking the outer or middle ear, the pure-tone test is substituted with a bone conduction test. A bone conductor or bone oscillator (a box that causes the bones of the skull to vibrate in response to tones) is placed behind the ear instead of headphones. Similarly, the results are produced in the form of an audiogram.
  • Speech: The speech test is similar to the pure-tone test in that the individual listens to sound through headphones. Instead of tones, the patient listens to words, which they must then repeat. The test determines one’s speech reception threshold. This test can be conducted in either quiet or noisy environments.
  • Auditory brainstem response (ABR): This test shows how the inner ear, also known as the cochlea, and the brain pathways for hearing are working. It measures the hearing nerve’s response to sound. Used for children and others who cannot complete a typical hearing test, individuals whose hearing loss symptoms are due to hearing loss in the brain, or newborns, this test is also known as an auditory evoked potential (AEP) test. Stickers called electrodes are placed on the individual’s head and in front of his or her ears and connected to a computer. The electrodes measure how the patient’s nerves respond to sounds are made through the earphones.
  • Otoacoustic emissions (OAE): The OAE test measures hair cell function. In a person with typical hearing, a small probe inserted into the causes the inner ear to emit tones or clicking sounds, while someone with hearing loss may not produce these sounds. Results are monitored while the patient takes no action.

Treatment for Hearing Loss

Hearing HealthThe most common forms of treatment for hearing loss are hearing aids and cochlear implants. These forms of technology enable people with hearing loss to communicate and contribute to overall well-being. A hearing aid is a small battery-powered device designed to improve one’s hearing. There are several designs and types of hearing aids that exist to best accommodate one’s individual hearing loss. They can differ in size, placement, and sound amplification. Cochlear implants are best for people with severe to profound hearing loss who do not or no longer show any benefit from a hearing aid. They are also helpful for people with single-sided deafness, and for infants or children born with a severe to profound hearing loss so that their speech and language development is not impeded. Visit a healthcare professional to rule out any serious medical issues. We also recommend making visit to an audiologist or hearing clinic like ASI Health Services and Mandalay Hearing Aids.

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