Happy New Year! It’s the season for change, what resolutions have you made for you and your family this year? Most of us make some kind of health related goal for the New Year from healthy eating to increasing movement, but what about hearing? You may have noticed after spending time with loved ones this season that it’s time to get your hearing checked. Let’s look at what to expect from your first hearing test as well as steps you can implement right away to improve your hearing.
What to expect from your first audiologist appointment
Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the first step towards improving your hearing. There are numerous physical and mental health advantages to treating hearing loss and you are on the right path by making your first appointment with a hearing health provider, or audiologist.
When you visit your new audiologist for the first time they will sit down with you to discuss your past medical and occupational history. They will also try to get a feel for your current lifestyle. This is because there are many potential causes for hearing loss and understanding these risks can help with treatment as well as preventing any further hearing loss.
Your audiologist will also want to review any signs or symptoms you have experienced. While there are many symptoms that you might expect with hearing loss such as difficulty hearing the television or someone speaking from the other room, there are some less obvious symptoms. For example, a common statement made by those with hearing loss is “I can hear you, I just can’t understand you.” This difficulty understanding is a symptom of hearing loss.
Once the initial discussion has taken place, you will likely sit for a hearing test. With or without symptoms of hearing loss, obtaining a baseline hearing test is recommended for all adults.
The hearing test, or audiogram, will begin with you sitting in a soundproof room with headphones. Beeps of various frequencies and volumes will play through the headphones in each ear separately. Only when you hear a beep will you press a small hand held button.
Your button clicks and the corresponding beeps are then charted on a graph with frequency on one axis and volume on the other. If treatment is suggested by your audiologist, this information is used to program your digital hearing aids to meet your exact needs.
Tips for hearing better right now
In addition to speaking with an audiologist and getting a hearing test, there are better hearing techniques that can be incorporated into your life today.
- Reduce background noise– Whether the television is on or there’s many people in the room having conversations, background noise hinders your ability to hear the person you are speaking to. Turn off the television or move to a quieter space for conversations. If you are going to a restaurant, call ahead for a reservation in a quieter area of the restaurant.
- Good lighting- This may sound counter intuitive but seeing well also helps hearing. Make sure your environment is well lit. A large part of communication includes things other than actually speaking: it’s facial expressions, body language, and sometimes reading lips. A well-lit environment allows you to take in all of that input to help you hear and understand better.
- Face to face- Yelling to someone from another room or even across the room can make hearing more difficult. Make sure that you are facing the person you are speaking to at eye level to ensure the best hearing possible.
- Subtitles- When possible, use subtitles. Most televisions and streaming services have the option for subtitles, even on live programs.
- Video calls- As discussed above, seeing helps us hear better. Because of this, try to utilize video calling apps rather than using a regular phone call. Reading facial expressions and body language is all possible on a video call and can help you understand others better.
As you can see, there are many ways to improve your hearing from communication techniques to treatment for hearing loss. Make an appointment with an audiologist today for your hearing test and to discuss any other steps you can take to start your New Year with better hearing.