As a child, you likely took a hearing exam at some point when you were in school. You may remember feeling excited that you were missing class to take a test that has nothing to do with your spelling words that week. The significance of those tests may not have made sense to you at the time, but they were just as important then as they are now.
The ability to hear is such a gift—one that most people take for granted until they begin to lose it. Hearing loss typically happens over time, and you may not realize it’s happening until it becomes considerable. For this reason, it’s recommended that you undergo a hearing screening every 10 years as an adult, and every three years after age 50.
You may be wondering what exactly your doctor is looking for during these exams. Here, our team discusses the importance of hearing exams, and what you can expect when you come in for one at ENT New York.
Why do I need a hearing exam?
Your very first hearing screening takes place in infancy, before you even leave the hospital. You probably won’t have another one until you’re in grade school. The purpose of these is to establish a baseline for your hearing and to make sure your hearing abilities are where they should be. If they’re not, healthcare professionals want to make sure you get the treatment you need to get them there.
Once you reach adulthood, it’s important to get a hearing screening once every 10 years, or perhaps more often if you’re exposed to loud noises regularly. Approximately 22 million people are exposed to dangerously loud noises in the workplace each year. Certain occupations come with a higher risk of loud noise exposure, including:
- Military personnel
- First responders
- Factory workers
- Musicians/Entertainment Industry workers
- Construction workers
If you’re in an environment that constantly exposes you to loud noise levels, it’s recommended that you use ear plugs and go in for more frequent hearing screenings. If hearing loss is detected, you’re referred to an audiologist or otolaryngologist (ENT) for a comprehensive hearing exam.
What happens during a hearing exam?
When you come into ENT New York for a hearing exam, Dr. Vandana Kumra examines the outside and inside of your ear to look for structural defects that could be getting in the way of your hearing. This is done using an otoscope, which is an instrument with a lighted tip that allows the doctor to look inside your middle and inner ear.
Once the visual portion of the exam is finished, you’re given a hearing test to determine how well you’re able to hear certain levels of sound through headphones. Another test that employs air puffs to measure your eardrum’s reaction to pressure and fluid buildup may also be used.
What is your doctor looking for?
During your hearing exam, your doctor is trying to determine the extent of your hearing loss, what might be causing it, and what treatment options are best suited for your case. Your doctor may find that your hearing loss is temporary due to a buildup of earwax, or that your hearing loss is irreversible due to exposure to loud noises or possibly even an underlying condition.
Certain conditions that may be discovered as a result of a hearing exam include:
- Chronic diseases that reduce blood flow to your ears or brain, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, or strokes
- Pendred syndrome, a genetic condition that’s present from birth and gradually worsens over time
- Meniere’s disease, which involves a fluid imbalance in your inner ear, and can cause vertigo, hearing loss, and tinnitus
- Otosclerosis, a disease that affects the bones in your middle ear, causing them to harden and prevent sound from reaching the inner ear
No matter what Dr. Kumra discovers, she discusses your treatment options with you and determines the best course of action to either resolve the issue or halt further progression of your hearing loss.
Whether you’re coming in for a routine hearing exam or you’ve noticed new hearing loss that you’d like to get checked out, our team at ENT New York is here to help. Don’t let hearing loss become a stressor in your life. Give our New York, New York, office a call or book an appointment online today.