Do I need a hearing test?

As we get older, regular hearing tests, like eye tests, become an important part of our healthcare routine. We have put together some simple criteria to help decide whether a free hearing test would benefit you:

You're over 60 and have never had a hearing test - Many people lose some of their hearing as they get older; it's a natural process and by the time we're 60 over half of us will have some degree of age-related hearing loss. If you're over 60 it's wise to start taking care of your hearing; attending a hearing test every 2 years is a simple first step.

It's over 2 years since your last hearing test - Our hearing levels change over time. If its 2 years or more since your last hearing test, we recommend you book an appointment at Listen and Speak Clinic. A hearing test is just as important if you already wear a hearing aid as changes to your hearing levels can affect how efficiently it supports you.

You feel you're not hearing as well as you used to - Hearing loss usually occurs so gradually that the early signs are easy to miss. You may not notice the changes to your hearing for some time - in fact for many people its friends or family members who notice the symptoms first. If any of the following hearing loss symptoms seem familiar, you could benefit from a hearing test

You sometimes mishear or misunderstand conversation; especially in background noise -

It's not necessarily that you can't hear people talking; you just can't hear them clearly. This can make it difficult to follow, and take part in conversations with friends and family. This can also be a challenge with conversations over the telephone when you can't see the person face to face.

You have the television turned up louder than others find comfortable -

Lots of people who come to see us say television is a particular issue. Turning up the volume may help, but an increase in volume doesn't always mean an increase in clarity and can mean people watching with you find it too loud for comfort.

You feel tired from trying to hear and follow conversations -

Concentrating hard to hear a group of friends or even the television at a low level can take its toll; you can feel tired, experience headaches or even stress.

If any of these apply to you, you can book an appointment at Listen and Speak Clinic. Call us on 9130 528 978.

What happens at a hearing test?

We offer different types of tests based on prescription and/or need; all are carried out by qualified audiologists.

1. Pure Tone Audiometry

A Pure Tone Audiometry (PTA), or simply called the Audiometry, is a 15 minute appointment, ideal for people who have never had a hearing test before or have mild concerns about their hearing.

Firstly we’ll discuss your hearing with you. This will include questions about your health and hearing history but also your lifestyle (as this can often impact on how your hearing affects you). This will also help us to understand possible causes for any hearing problems.

Next we’ll examine your ears. From this we’ll be able to assess the general health of your ear and ear canal and identify any wax, obstruction or infection that may be affecting your ability to hear clearly - If we do discover anything that requires attention from your GP/ ENT we'll refer you straight away.

The third stage is the hearing test itself. We’ll present you with a series of sounds played through headphones and a vibrator placed on the head and ask you to press a button whenever you hear one. As the test progresses we’ll plot the details of your hearing on a graph called an audiogram, which will provide a picture of your hearing levels. If appropriate we may also carry out a spoken word test to assess how well you can hear speech with and without background noise.

Finally we'll take you through your results. If the test indicates your hearing is within normal levels we'll invite you to come back for your next regular check in a year s time.

If your hearing test indicates you have some level of hearing loss we’ll take the time to discuss your options with you. One of these options may be to consider a hearing aid. At Listen and Speak Clinic we have a wide range of styles, sizes and prices which we can take you through or, even better, let you hear for yourself with a free demonstration.

2. Impedance Audiometry

The primary purpose of impedance audiometry is to determine the status of the tympanic membrane (ear drum) and middle ear via tympanometry. The secondary purpose of this test is to evaluate acoustic reflex pathways.
Tympanometry allows the audiologist to measure how well the eardrum is vibrating when sound strikes and how well the tiny bones of the ear are functioning to transmit those vibrations to the organ of hearing. It also measures the pressure in the space behind the eardrum that contains those bones. For tympanometry, a soft rubbery tip is inserted in the ear and the pressure in the ear canal is changed, resulting in a feeling like going up in an airplane.Abnormal findings on this test may indicate a conductive loss requiring a referral for medical evaluation. An example of a hearing problem with abnormal tympanometry would be a patient with fluid in the ear.
Another part of the impedance test battery is acoustic reflex measurement. Acoustic reflex measurement allows the audiologist to further examine the integrity of the middle ear system. For this test, very brief, somewhat loud tones are presented to each ear, to determine whether an acoustic reflex is present or absent, without requiring any response from the patient. In a normal-hearing ear, the stapedius muscle in the middle ear contracts involuntarily in response to loud sounds presented at levels of about 70-100 dB (decibels).

3. Otoacoustic Emission (OAE)

Otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) are clinically important because they are the basis of a simple, non-invasive, test for hearing defects in newborn babies and in children who are too young to cooperate in conventional hearing tests. An otoacoustic emission test measures an acoustic response that is produced by the inner ear (cochlea), which in essence bounces back out of the ear in response to a sound stimulus. The test is performed by placing a small probe that contains a microphone and speaker into the ear. As the patient rests quietly, sounds are generated in the probe and responses that come back from the cochlea are recorded. Once the cochlea processes the sound, an electrical stimulus is sent to the brainstem. In addition, there is a second and separate sound that does not travel up the nerve, but comes back out into the ear canal. This "byproduct" is the otoacoustic emission. The emission is then recorded with the microphone probe and represented pictorially on a computer screen. The audiologist can determine which sounds yielded a response/emission and the strength of those responses. OAEs can be recorded on people at virtually any age, from shortly after birth to well above age 80. For example, research has shown that babies with normal hearing have measurable OAEs as soon as six hours after birth.
For more information on testing babies hearing, please visit our Neonatal Testing page.

You can book any of these appointments by calling us on 9130 528 978