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Your Healthy Family: What should happen during a comprehensive hearing test?

Posted at 8:00 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 22:11:16-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — When was the last time you had your hearing checked? Until earlier this year it was in elementary school for me, and even though in my early 50’s I didn't think I was having hearing issues I learned that having my hearing tested before I began to notice problems would be helpful in many ways.

(NOTE: This video for this story was taken prior to the outbreak of COVID-19)

Katie Williams, a doctor of audiology with Hearing Consultants in Colorado Springs who performed my hearing test explains, “Some people who are maybe not working, or they are home most of the time and might live with just one other person - they may not be as aware of their hearing loss because - they don't have a very demanding listening lifestyle.”

I’m often accused by my wife of having a hearing problem, and having been told the value of a hearing test through doing other stories with Hearing Consultants of Colorado Springs I decided it was a good idea to have my hearing checked.

My first surprise was learning that the very in-depth test was covered by my insurance, and only took about 45 minutes.

The exam began with some background questions about my hearing history and work environments. Once in the booth Katie examined the inside of my ears and checked the health of my eardrum with a pressure test, that was painless. Another test that involved simply listening to beeps that checked the health of my inner ear.

Next, was a test where I listened for tones and beeps in each ear and clicked a handheld button as I heard them. Indicating when I heard soft tones, and even barely heard tones were at times challenging. At one point in the test, I wondered if I had indeed begun to lose my hearing.

Katie later explained that some of the tones were very hard to hear, by design. “We measured your threshold, which is the quietest sound or the softest sound you can hear, or that you become aware of.”

Finally, I was asked to listen for a series of words and then repeat them back one by one as I heard them. Katie says, “The ability to repeat words tells us that you're able to understand them and repeat them back. That evaluates the health of your auditory nerve and ensures that your processing sounds well.”

After the hearing test was complete, within minutes she shared with me what is called an audiogram, that charts how well each ear hears decibels, which is volume. It also charts how well each ear hears low and high frequencies measured in hertz.

To my surprise, Katie said, “All of your thresholds came in the normal range today. Your hearing is perfect right now and we want to keep it that way”

At first, I felt a little silly for thinking I needed to have my hearing checked but Katie reassured me. “This was not a waste of time by any means, It's so important to have a baseline hearing test. You'd be surprised at the number of people that come in and they say, ‘I think something's changed with my hearing. Things don't quite sound right. People are saying that I have to ask them to repeat things more often.’ and I don't have anything to compare it to.”

She also had some valuable advice so that hopefully my next diagnostic will go just as well. “What you can do moving forward is to protect your hearing. When you're around excessive noise levels, generally anything louder than the garbage disposal - like mowing your lawn or using a chainsaw - be sure to always use hearing protection. Generally, we want to see you back in 2 years to do another hearing test. If we see a change in hearing that is greater than 10 to 20 decibels, then we will know that maybe something more clinically significant is happening that we need to investigate further.”

It's also important during the pandemic to call any medical provider, the dentist, eye doctor, ear doctor ahead of time, and see what COVID-19 precautions they have in place, so you know you can be safely seen to ensure your overall quality of life by not ignoring your general health.

If you want to learn more about having your hearing checked, you can reach out to Hearing Consultants of Colorado Springs, by calling (719) 633-1494 or visiting their website, Hearing Consultants of Colorado Springs (https://myhearingconsultants.com/)

Hearing Consultants of Colorado Springs is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family