Hearing Exams Can Discover More Than Hearing Loss

Image of woman getting hearing test with the results superimposed.

Invaluable information about your state of health is provided by a hearing test. Because ears are so sensitive, hearing tests can potentially detect early signs of other health problems. What will a hearing exam tell you about your health.

What is a Hearing Exam?

Out of the many types of hearing exams, putting on earphones and listening to a series of tones is the standard assessment. The hearing specialist will play these tones at different volumes and pitches to figure out whether you have hearing loss, and if so the severity of the loss.

So that you can make sure you hear sounds accurately, another hearing test plays words in one ear and you will repeat them back. In some cases, this test is intentionally done with background noise to find out whether that affects your ability to hear. To be able to get a proper measurement for each side, tests are done on each ear individually.

What do Hearing Test Results Mean?

Whether someone has loss of hearing, and the extent of it, is what the normal hearing test determines. Adults with minor hearing loss, 25 decibels or less, are considered to have normal hearing. At this point, hearing specialists gauge hearing loss as:

  • Moderate to severe
  • Profound
  • Mild
  • Severe
  • Moderate

The level of damage is based on the decibel level of the hearing loss.

Do Hearing Tests Determine Anything Else?

Other hearing tests can determine the thresholds of air and bone conduction, viability of the structures in the middle ear such as the eardrum, kind of hearing loss, and a person’s ability to hear distinctly when there is background noise.

Other health problems can also be revealed by a hearing test like:

  • Extreme headaches and pain in the joints caused by Paget’s disease.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. Hearing loss is 300% percent more likely in people with RA..
  • Heart and circulation problems. The inner ear has one blood vessel, which makes it more susceptible to fluctuations in blood pressure and cholesterol.
  • Meniere’s disease and other problems with dizziness and vertigo.
  • And, Otosclerosis, which if diagnosed early enough, has the possibility of being reversed.
  • Diabetes. It’s thought that high levels of sugar in the blood can harm blood vessels like the one that goes to the inner ear.

The insight from the hearing exam can be used by the expert to figure out if you suffer from the following:

  • Damage from chronic infections or disease
  • Hearing loss associated with aging
  • Injury from trauma
  • Unusual bone growths
  • Tumors
  • Injury caused by exposure to loud noises, ototoxic chemicals or medications
  • Another medical problem like high blood pressure causing hearing loss

You can try to find ways to protect your health and take care of your hearing loss once you understand why you have it.

The hearing professional will also look at the results of the exam to identify risk factors caused by your loss of hearing and come up with a preemptive strategy to lower those risks.

What Are The Risks of Neglecting Hearing Loss?

Medical science is beginning to realize how hearing loss affects a person’s health and quality of life. Researchers from Johns Hopkins kept track of 636 individuals over 12 years. They found that people with hearing loss have an increased risk of dementia. The risk gets higher with more substantial hearing loss.

Two times the risk of dementia comes with moderate loss of hearing, based on this study. A moderate loss means three times the risk, and severe hearing impairment raises the risk by five.

Also, social decline is apparent in those with hearing loss. People will stay away from discussions if they have trouble following them. That can lead to more time alone and less time with friends and family.

A recent bout of exhaustion could also be explained by a hearing test. In order to comprehend what you hear, the brain needs to do work. It has to work harder to detect and translate sound when there is loss of hearing. Your left feeling tired all the time as your other senses are robbed of energy.

Finally, the National Council on Aging reports there is a clear correlation between depression and hearing loss, specifically, when left untreated, age related loss of hearing.

Treating hearing loss, with hearing aids or other hearing technology, can eliminate or mitigate these risks, and step one for correct treatment is a hearing test.

An expert hearing test is a pain-free and comfortable way to learn a lot about your hearing and your health, so why are you waiting to schedule your appointment?