When you suspect your hearing is going or have people tell you it is, you need to take some action. Sometimes it's a joke to say your hearing has gone bad, but when it's serious, you need to get in to a doctor and have some tests performed. Tests are crucial to the correct outcome for your ears.
When you suspect hearing loss, call your family doctor. They can perform some light testing and see if it is an ear wax problem or a true hearing loss situation. If it's an ear wax buildup, the doctor has tools and a few different ways to remove the wax. The wax is either loosened to fall out on its own or it can be removed all together by the doctor.
If ear wax is not a problem, then the doctor will refer you to an audiologist. An audiologist is a doctor specifically for the ears and hearing. They have a whole range of tests to perform to see how much loss has happened, where the loss is coming from and ways to help your hearing.
The first thing they do is look at your ear with a special tool and see if there are abnormalities in the shape. An abnormality may affect how a person does or does not hear.
The next thing they will do is put you in a sound booth and have you listen to different tones and sounds. A set of headphones is placed over your ears and a series of noises come over in one or both ears. You need to signal to the person administering the test which ear you hear the sound from. They keep track of which sounds you are able to hear and not hear.
A device is inserted in your ear and then the test is run again to see if you can hear the tones you missed the first time. Next, a probe is placed in the middle ear and tones are sent to your ear drums with greater pressure and then reduced pressure. This determines if the problem is with your middle ear.
Another test that can be run is with sounds. Different sounds of speech are spoken through a headset and you need to identify which ones they are. The person monitoring your test keeps track of any misses to see how much you are or aren't hearing when people speak to you.
The audiologist takes the results of all the test and compiles a composite report of what your hearing loss is. Depending on how much loss you have determines what kind of hearing device you need to have. There are different levels of hearings aids that can be purchased to use so your hearing loss in minimized.
Or at least the people around you think it will be - but you can opt for selective hearing whenever you like, just don't blame the audiologist! Catching hearing loss early can help you to prevent more of it in the future.