What Is A Baseline Hearing Test And Why Do You Need One?
When we think about hearing tests, we often think back to our days in grade school when we got time out of class to get our hearing tested - but hearing testing shouldn’t stop there.
Just because we get older doesn’t mean our hearing becomes any less important.
In this post, we'll go through everything you need to know about baseline hearing tests, what they are, and why you should get one.
When should you get a hearing test?
Ideally, you should consider having your hearing tested for a baseline hearing level if you’re between 21-50 years of age.
This will give your audiologist a hearing test on file so they can use it to compare your future hearing tests results for signs of hearing loss. It’ll make it easier if diagnosed with hearing loss and allow you to get the help you need quickly.
If you haven’t had a baseline hearing test, then your audiologist won’t be able to monitor how your hearing has changed over time. This will make it difficult to prescribe the best possible treatment.
A baseline hearing test will show your audiologist if you currently have mild hearing loss - something you might not have even been aware of as it’s not easily detected by yourself! But, with a baseline hearing test, your audiologist will be able to diagnose even the mildest of hearing loss with ease.
So if you haven’t had a hearing test in a while or you’ve never had one before, now is the time to schedule one.
How common is hearing loss in adults?
According to the Johns Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, hearing loss is incredibly common and actually affects one in eight Americans.
The number of adult Americans with hearing loss is also increasing year on year. It’s been reported that the number of people with hearing loss in the US will rise from 44 million in 2020 to over 73 million by 2060.
The majority of people with hearing loss will be aged 60 and older, so it’s important to know now what your current hearing status is in case you are diagnosed later on in life.
A baseline hearing test will determine your level of hearing and allow your audiologist to set up any necessary follow-up hearing tests so they can monitor any changes.
Why do you need a baseline hearing test?
“I can hear fine: why do I need a baseline hearing test?”
We hear this a lot. People believe their hearing is top-notch and don’t feel like it’s necessary to busy their schedule with a baseline hearing test. But hearing tests are vital for the future of your hearing.
Hearing loss isn’t always something you can simply diagnose, and sometimes it can go unnoticed for years.
Why does hearing loss go undiagnosed?
It goes unnoticed because you can have normal hearing when it comes to low frequencies, but have hearing loss in the high frequencies or vice versa.
Hearing loss in the high frequencies could give you trouble hearing high consonant sounds. For example, not noticing a difference between the words pass and path. But with other context clues, you may be able to understand what was said.
Hearing loss is typically a slow, gradual process that occurs over time. You could have an unnoticeable hearing loss, and believe your hearing is fine.
Some telltale signs of hearing loss include:
- Slowly raising the TV or phone volume
- Asking others to repeat what they said
- Trying to read lips to understand what was said
- Being aware of visual cues
The sounds we’re used to hearing, like turn signals or chirping birds, will fade away without realization. This slow decline in hearing ability lets our brain adapt to hearing loss. The brain may not translate the lack of picking up sounds around us, and hearing loss isn’t noticed.
More often than not, the people around you, friends and family, are the ones who’ll notice your hearing difficulties. They’ll notice before you and possibly before your doctor too!
Hearing loss affects your loved ones as they have to make the appropriate adjustments while interacting with you. For example, they’ll have to:
- Constantly raise their voice
- Repeat what they’ve said
- Raise the TV volume
- Repeat what another person has said - like your doctor
If you’ve noticed any of these indications, you should check-in for a hearing test right away.
What can happen with untreated hearing loss?
Hearing loss is more common than you think, and it tends to be more common the more we age. 14% of people in the US have clinically-relevant hearing loss, and it affects ¼ of adults in their 60’s and ⅔ of adults aged seventy and older.
This is because as you get older, the hair cells in the inner ear that transmit sounds to your brain get damaged. Noise exposure, aging, ototoxic medications, and other damage to the hair cells can cause hearing loss over time.
Hearing loss is also linked with an increased risk of dementia and poor health outcomes. This is because hearing loss prevents sounds from reaching the brain, which then focuses the brain on working much harder than usual - impairing communication. Studies have shown that hearing loss is the most significant risk for dementia, and it’s also linked with depression and accidents.
Untreated hearing loss can also cause:
- Irritability, negativity, anger
- Fatigue, tension, stress, depression
- Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
- Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
- Impaired memory and the ability to learn new tasks
- Reduced job performance
- Diminished psychological and overall health
We hope this blog has helped you discover the importance of baseline hearing tests and why you should schedule one right away. To celebrate Better Hearing Month in May, we are offering complimentary Baseline Hearing Tests and our team will be able to answer any questions you might have about hearing loss.
Take charge of your hearing and health by scheduling a baseline hearing test today!
Book online or call The Hearing Solution on 916-646-2471.
Interested in learning more? Attend one of our regular hearing solution events to learn more about our unique approach to hearing loss or give us a call at 916-646-2471.Contact Us Now