Symptoms and Tests for Hearing Problems

The five sensory organs – eyes, nose, skin, ear and tongue helps us see, smell, feel, hear and taste. The comprehensive ability of any individual is hugely affected if even a single sensory organ fails to function correctly. Hearing problem can be one of the major issues for such individuals. Right from a child to a senior citizen, if there is any disturbance in your hearing ability, you might need medical assistance. However, one must first determine if they are sure about suffering from hearing issues or there can be any other possibilities as well.

Listed out are some of the common symptoms that indicate that you might be suffering from hearing issues. This list might help you ensure that your doubts regarding hearing impairments.

Signs of hearing issues are as follows:

  • Difficulty in understanding words in a crowded place
  • Higher volume pitch is audible to them
  • Difficulty in understanding words in places having background noise
  • Needing to volume up television, radio or other audio devices, while having trouble in understanding at normal volume
  • Muffling of speech
  • Withdrawal from conversation
  • Unable to answer when they are called out from a distance
  • Frequently asking you to repeat as they listen to unclear words

Individuals who undergo such challenges must visit an ENT (Ear Nose Throat) specialist as soon as possible. Emergent medical assistance can reduce the chances of losing your hearing ability completely. Also, it can help in fixing this problem before it hampers any other functionality of your ear or its connective nerves.

An audiometry test examines your hearing functionality. Sounds differ in their intensity (loudness) and tone (speed of sound wave vibrations).

When we hear a sound, the sound waves vibrations are carried from our outer ear through the ear canal, to your middle area of the ear (air conduction) and ear bone (bone conduction). These sound vibrations send signals to the nerve of our internal ear and stimulates it. This is how we hear a sound from a limited audible area.

Although, every sound that we hear can have different intensity. For example, a whisper has lower intensity as compared to the sound of the whistle of a train engine. The intensity or loudness of a sound is measured in terms of decibels (dB). A whisper has an intensity of around 20dB, whereas a rock concert has an intensity in the range of 80 dB to 120 dB. Any sound having an intensity higher than 85 dB can be harmful for your ear. It reduces your hearing ability gradually and can also lead to ear pain. If you notice symptoms like ear ache and head ache simultaneously, it can be a reason to a serious problem. At such instances, audiometry test helps you determine your hearing ability.

On the other hand, a tone is measured in terms of cycles per second (cps) or Hertz (Hz). Low sound tones are in the range of 50 Hz to 60 Hz. Higher pitched tones fall under the range of 10,000 Hz or more.

The hearing ability of a normal human is around 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. However, human speech falls under the range of 500 to 3,000 Hz.

Audiometry test procedure

Initially, your doctor ensures whether you require an audiometry test. This procedure is performed by covering one ear and testing another, using whisper sounds, speaking at normal tone, etc.

One of the methods of this procedure involve usage of a tuning fork. Tapping the tuning fork and holding at one side of the ear to test the ability of hearing by air conduction. The same process is repeated and the tuning fork is place against the mastoid bone behind both the ear, one at a time to examine bone conduction functionality.

Audiometry test offers a precise result of your hearing ability. At the initial part of the test, audiologist will ask you to wear earphones. These earphones are attached to a device called audiometer. Audiometer plays sound with pure tones having a controlled intensity and passed on to a single ear piece at a time. Patients are asked to notify themselves if they hear a sound by pressing a button or write it down or provide some indication whenever they hear a sound.

Using different sound techniques, a minimum intensity for hearing is graphed down for each tone. In order to test bone conduction functionality, a device called as bone oscillator is placed behind each ear, particularly behind the mastoid bone.

An audiometry test is useful to identify hearing loss at an early stage. Apart from normal hearing issues, this test can be conducted for the above issues.

Hearing issues can also occur due to the following reasons:

  • Chronic ear infections
  • Any injury to your head
  • Heavy dosages of certain medicines harm the inner ear
  • Internal nerve injury/damage in your head and/or neck
  • Hereditary ear disorders
  • Acoustic accident
  • Ear diseases that affect your internal part of the ear
  • Ruptured or damaged eardrums

Results of an audiometry test

Normal results indicate the following:

  • You are able to hear the sound of whisper, ticking clock and audio play
  • You are able to hear the sound created by the tuning fork through air and bone conduction

If any sound in the range of 250 Hz – 8000 Hz at 25 dB or lower range is audible to the patient, it indicates that the result is normal.

However, if you are unable to hear at high or low tones in the same range, it indicates that the results are abnormal. Your audiologist will determine the range of sound where you find difficulty in hearing and begin with ask you to undergo appropriate treatment to fix such an issue. According to the abnormal results, doctor determines the cause of your hearing impairment. If you face any issue, it is advisable you undergo the right treatment to keep complications at bay.

To conclude, this article speaks about the general hearing problems and the solution to fix this problem. The article explains you what audiometry test is, how is it performed and why do your require it. If you are suffering from hearing loss, you should visit an ENT specialist before it turns worse. Ignoring hearing problems can lead to complete hear loss.

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