Global Impact of Hearing Loss

Risks Associated with Hearing Loss

Across the globe, millions of people with hearing loss are at risk of developing depression, isolation, and regression. Hearing loss is a widespread issue, affecting nearly one-third of the population and people of all ages.

Hearing Loss and Mental Health

There are already strong links between hearing loss and dementia, largely attributed to an increase in antisocial behaviour. This highlights the importance of addressing hearing issues promptly.

The Role of Hearing Tests

Initial Steps in Diagnosing Hearing Loss

Hearing tests are a critical first step in diagnosing your hearing loss. During an initial assessment, your audiologist may conduct various tests to evaluate your hearing and auditory system.

Types of Auditory Assessments

These tests can include otoscopy, pure tone audiometry (a hearing test), and tympanometry. The outcome of these tests is an audiogram, which gives your audiologist an initial understanding of your hearing capacity.

Advancing Beyond Basic Hearing Tests

Limitations of Standard Hearing Tests

While these tests are useful, they don’t always provide a comprehensive view of how your auditory system is functioning.

Importance of Clinical Speech Tests

To address these limitations, clinical speech tests are often used. These tests are crucial in filling in the gaps left by standard hearing assessments, providing additional information about your auditory health.

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About Speech Testing

What is Speech Testing/Speech Audiometry?

Speech testing/speech audiometry are important tests, which look at how well you are able to interpret either words or sentences at different intensities. These results are compared to normative speech scores and are used to determine how you may perform in certain environments. It is an important test as it often provides information which cannot be seen through a pure tone audiometry (hearing test) and can sometimes lead to a recommendation to further specialist tests.

The Significance of Speech Testing

A very important use of speech testing is to measure how you will perform in noisier environments. This is called a Speech in Noise test. Hearing in noisy environments is often where people with hearing loss struggle to hear. Even with hearing aids, these environments can sometimes be very difficult. Your speech in noise test results will provide an indication to your clinician on what type of hearing aid may be required and whether you will need further specialist equipment such as external microphones, speech in noise programmes etc.

Real-Life Impact: Case Study of Mr. Bosund and Mr. Strand

Take an example: Mr. Bosund and Mr. Strand are both active 65 year olds with similar lifestyles, hobbies and both enjoy going to socials with their friends. They both wear hearing aids. Mr. Strand really struggles to hear in his socials with his friends, whilst Mr Bosund doesn’t. A hearing test shows that both Mr. Strand and Mr. Bosund have similar hearing losses. So why the disparity in their hearing?

If a speech test was performed on Mr. Bosund and Mr. Strand, we would see a vast difference in their speech scores even though their hearing tests are similar. There are a number of reasons behind this, but it stresses the importance that a hearing test does not provide us with all the information we need.

The Impact of Speech Testing Results

Speech testing results can influence the type of hearing aid, the technology chosen i.e. premium, advanced or standard and whether there is a necessity for external microphones. All these considerations are made blindly if a speech test is not performed.

What to Expect During a Speech Test

Understanding the Speech Test

A speech test is quite similar to the pure tone test ( Hearing test), but instead of listening to different pure tone, you listen to pre-recorded words spoken at different volumes. Your audiologist will be listening to your responses and noting them. The results will be displayed on an audiogram which will help determine your speech reception threshold. The test shows how well you hear and understand normal conversation in quiet.

The Speech-in-Noise Test

A speech-in-noise test will follow a similar pattern, but there will be a constant noise in the background. With the addition of background noise, it will make the test more challenging, but will provide further information of how your hearing fares in noisier environments. A speech-in-noise test is often compared to normative data the clinician has already collected.

After The Testing is Done

Combining the results of your routine tests (Pure tone audiogram, tympanometry) with both speech in noise and quiet tests will provide a full picture to your audiologist. They will fully explain your results and provide a solution, which is best suited to you. This may include an education on listening tactics, the use of external microphones or utilising hearing aids on a regular basis to improve your overall hearing.

If hearing aids are suitable, these tests can be repeated with your hearing aids on. This will provide you an objective measure of how well you are hearing with your hearing aids, and whether you need any further adjustments.