Our sense of hearing allows us to connect with others and experience the world around us. For most of us, being able to hear the voices of loved ones or appreciate music is something we take for granted. However, hearing loss can gradually happen to anyone and significantly impacts the quality of life. Suppose your hearing used to be more sharp than it used to be, or you need help understanding conversations, especially in noisy environments. In that case, it may be time to have your hearing evaluated by an audiologist. Consulting with an audiologist in Sydney can help you rediscover the clarity of sound and reconnect with the people and activities you enjoy most.
Symptoms That Suggest Visiting an Audiologist
A few common symptoms indicate you should have a hearing test performed by an audiologist. Awareness of these signs is essential, as addressing hearing loss early on can prevent it from worsening. Some characters that you may want to visit an audiologist include:
Difficulty Following Conversations
Do you frequently need people to repeat themselves in conversation? Do you need help understanding what is being said without looking directly at the speaker? Difficulty following along during conversations, especially when background noise is present, is one of the most common early symptoms of hearing loss. An audiologist can check whether you have mild hearing loss impacting specific sound frequencies.
Frequently Turning Up the Volume
If your friends and family complain about you having the TV or radio turned up too loud, this could indicate some degree of hearing loss. Increasing volume levels to hear correctly is often gradual, so you may need to realise you are doing it. Getting your hearing tested can determine if there is a medical reason why you require increased volume.
Ringing in the Ears
Experiencing tinnitus, or ringing or buzzing in the ears, especially when there is no external sound source, can be associated with hearing loss. Tinnitus can also be disruptive to sleep and concentration. An audiologist can check if hearing damage is the cause of tinnitus and recommend treatment options.
Avoiding Social Situations
Many people with untreated hearing loss avoid certain social situations where hearing plays a significant role. From noisy restaurants to family gatherings to church services, where you once enjoyed participating, you may now find yourself holding back. Audiology testing can identify any issues and restore your confidence.
The Audiologist Consultation Process
Visiting an audiologist may start with an initial consultation and discussion of your health history and concerns, followed by a hearing test. Here’s an overview of what to expect:
The audiologist will inquire about any difficulties you’ve had with hearing, how long they’ve been occurring, and what environments trigger them. Information about your work life, social activities, illnesses, medications, and family history will also help provide context on possible causes of hearing issues.
Diagnostic Hearing Test
Hearing testing is typically conducted in a soundproof booth using specialised equipment. You will wear headphones and respond to various tones and words to determine your hearing ability in each ear at different sound frequencies. The results indicate where you may have mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss. The exam only takes a short time and is not painful or invasive.
Examination of Ears
To check for blockages, earwax buildup, eardrum damage, or infections, the audiologist will conduct an otoscope exam of your ears. Problems that could impact hearing can then be identified and treated.
Once the testing is complete, the audiologist will discuss the results with you. They will explain where your hearing loss occurs, the possible reasons, and how significantly it impacts your communication ability. Recommendations will be made on the following steps to take.
Hearing Loss Treatment Options
If the audiologist confirms you have hearing loss, they may suggest one or more of the following treatment options depending on the severity and nature of the issues:
Hearing aids are small electronic devices worn in or behind the ear that amplify sounds to make them more transparent. Today’s digital hearing aids can be programmed explicitly for your level of hearing loss through a computer.
Assistive Listening Devices
These supplementary devices improve your ability to hear more clearly during conversations or watching TV by shutting out background noise. They include headsets, mobile phone amplifiers, and personal amplifiers worn around the neck or clipped onto clothing.
Cochlear implants are surgically implanted devices consisting of an external portion that sits behind the ear and a second portion surgically placed under the skin. They bypass damaged inner ear structures and send electrical signals directly to the auditory nerve. Cochlear implants are an option for individuals with severe internal ear hearing loss who get limited benefit from conventional hearing aids.
Also called auditory training, it involves working with a therapist to help your brain relearn how to process and understand auditory information, including speech and other meaningful sounds, after a period of auditory deprivation from hearing loss. Hearing aids or cochlear implants work best when paired with acoustic rehab therapy.
The Benefits of Treating Hearing Loss
Seeking audiology testing and correction for hearing difficulties can lead to significant quality-of-life improvements:
You’ll no longer miss parts of the conversation or need to constantly ask others to repeat themselves, allowing you to connect better with friends and family. Group settings will become easier to follow and participate in. Misunderstandings from incorrectly hearing something will be reduced.
Hearing allows you to respond promptly to alerts or environmental warnings like car horns, smoke alarms, or calls for help. It also makes it easier to be aware while driving, walking in busy areas, or performing tasks requiring auditory input.
Reduced Social Isolation
When hearing loss is corrected, being social becomes less stressful and tiring. You can return to enjoying dining out, attending classes, travelling, and being involved in your community when hearing loss is no longer a barrier. Improved hearing means improved social engagement.
Improved Cognitive Health
Research shows unaddressed hearing loss can speed up cognitive decline. Hearing promotes increased blood flow and stimulation to brain parts related to memory and thinking. Preventing hearing loss from worsening can help maintain mental health longer.
Better Mood and Reduced Depression
The frustration and embarrassment of hearing loss and withdrawal from social situations it causes can lead to depression. Treating hearing difficulties allows you to once again participate in activities that bring meaning and joy. It lifts that isolating cloud over your life.
Higher Job Performance
Hearing is vital to good workplace communication and performance. Seeking treatment for hearing loss helps you avoid appearing confused, disengaged, or incapable at work. It allows you to succeed at your job based on skills, not impaired hearing ability.
If you have noticed some decline in your hearing or an increased struggle to follow conversations easily, don’t delay seeking help. Consult with an audiologist in Sydney to evaluate your hearing, identify solutions to improve your connection with others, and rediscover your joy in sound.