Why Should You Have a Hearing Screening?

There are certain things in life we take for granted: Tom Brady defying the aging process, Kanye West behaving controversially, and the return of Starbucks’ pumpkin spice lattes even before the leaves begin to change colors. Many of us would add “hearing” to that list, assuming it will always be there for us until the day comes when you’re cranking the volume on the TV so loud your neighbors begin pounding on the wall in disgust. A hearing screening is the best way to detect potential problems early and help you keep the peace with the folks living right next door.

The Effects of Untreated Hearing Loss

Man suffering from social withdrawal

Approximately one out of five people in Encino has hearing loss. Many of them are not even aware of this; hearing loss develops gradually, and our brains – remarkable organs that they are – help compensate for a reduction in hearing by diverting cognitive resources from other areas in order to reduce the strain involved in trying to hear. It takes an average of seven years for somebody with a hearing impairment to seek treatment, but valuable time is lost when waiting and the results can be dangerous. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to many serious complications, including:

  • Irritability and anger
  • Fatigue, stress, and depression
  • Social withdrawal
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Reduced mental alertness
  • Increased risk to personal safety
  • Impaired memory
  • Poor job performance and reduced earning power
  • Cognitive decline and depression

It also increases your risk of developing a serious physical condition, such as diabetes, and is linked to an increased number of falls. Regular hearing screenings are the best way to ensure your continued health and safety.

Hearing Screenings in Encino

A hearing screening actually involves a series of hearing tests. Your Encino audiologist may recommend any of the following, depending on your individual circumstances:

  • Pure Tone Audiometry. Also known as air conduction testing, pure tone audiometry measures your response to sounds of different frequencies and volumes. You’ll be seated in a sound proof booth and asked to respond to sounds sent through a pair of headphones, usually by pressing a button or raising a hand. The results show your degree of hearing loss and which ears are affected.
  • Bone Conduction Test. Bone conduction testing looks for blockages in the outer or middle ear. A small device is placed behind your ear or on your forehead; when struck, vibrations produce a mechanical tone that should stimulate your cochlea. Your response measures how well sound is traveling through your ear, and whether hearing loss is affecting your outer or middle ear.
  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). In an ABR test, electrodes are attached to your head, scalp or earlobes, and you are given a pair of headphones to put on. Sounds are sent through the headphones, and the electrodes measure your brainwave activity in response to these sounds. ABR is used to diagnose sensorineural hearing loss, which affects the inner ear and is the most common type of hearing impairment.
  • Speech Testing. Speech testing measures your ability to comprehend words and phrases. Testing is performed in both quiet situations and over noisy backgrounds and will determine whether wearing hearing aids or assistive listening devices will be beneficial.
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs). OAE testing uses a probe containing a microphone and speaker; this is placed in the ear canal and sound is generated in an attempt to stimulate the cochlea. The hair cells should vibrate in response, producing their own faint sound (called an otoacoustic emission). If a hearing loss exceeds 25-30 decibels, no sound is produced.

Regardless of the type of hearing test used in your screening, all are completely safe and painless. There’s no reason why hearing screenings shouldn’t become a regular part of your routine medical care; they’ll help your Encino audiologist identify any issues before they worsen, and will help prevent the debilitating social and emotional effects associated with hearing loss.

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