Hearing is not only important for interpersonal communication and an active social life. It also helps orient you within your environment and enables you to receive important information about what’s happening beyond your field of vision (e.g., realize a car is approaching from behind).
Hearing with your brain
In order to maintain your hearing it is crucial to address any signs of hearing loss while still in their early stages. Remember, your ear serves as only one element of the overall hearing process while the crucial work is done by your brain. It processes incoming signals in greater detail, evaluates them, and filters the perceived sounds so that you pay attention to what’s important, comprehend the input, and ignore what’s unnecessary for understanding or safety. If you develop hearing loss, your brain no longer receives enough signals into its hearing center to perform these vital functions. Over time your brain might even forget how to interpret sound signals correctly — and once hearing is forgotten, it is very difficult to learn it again.
Anyone who notices they are no longer hearing correctly should undergo a hearing test. Common warning signs include:
- Having to always turn the TV or radio volume up louder
- Frequently asking conversation partners to repeat what they just said
- Straining to understand others in noisy environments
- Being startled by the ‘sudden’ approach of people or moving objects more often
First step toward better hearing
If you suspect that you might be losing your hearing, Signia offers a free online hearing test, the results of which will indicate whether or not you have some level of hearing loss. We also offer a Hearing Test app to help you determine if you have cause for concern and might benefit from wearing a hearing aid. This application has been scientifically developed and carefully tested to ensure the most precise results possible. The test is completely independent of language, so you can use it reliably no matter which you’re most comfortable speaking or understanding. The Hearing Test app examines how well you can detect words in background noise, because individuals with hearing loss have greater difficulty understanding speech in noisy environments like restaurants, mass transit stations, and similar places.
Only a hearing care professional knows for sure
Of course, online or smartphone-based hearing tests can only provide so much information. If you want to know the exact condition of your hearing, you should contact a hearing care professional for a full assessment and advice about possible treatment options. The hearing care professional will also refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist if their examination indicates a larger health problem is the root cause of your hearing difficulties. You should immediately go to an ENT if hearing loss suddenly occurs in one or both ears, which could be a condition known as Sudden Hearing Loss that requires urgent attention. Additionally, If your hearing loss is accompanied by a feeling of pressure in the ear, tinnitus (noise in the ear without an outside source), fever, fatigue, or pain, contact an ENT right away.