When was the last time you had your hearing tested? The American Academy of Audiology and The Academy of Doctors of Audiology, along with many researchers and specialists, are now urging anyone age 50 and older to have annual hearing tests as part of a healthy person physical. Just as all of us are used to having our eyes tested, we should have our ears tested, too!
Hearing loss is insidious, meaning that it is gradual but may have very harmful effects. Because of this, those with hearing loss often don't notice it for a while — but their family members, co-workers, and friends do. Hearing loss from genetics, noise, or medications can sneak up on us and cause unwanted side effects. Untreated hearing loss has been linked to decreased word recognition, difficulty communicating, increased risk of falls, cognitive decline, social isolation, and even dementia.
The good news is that it is very simple to get a thorough audiological evaluation (hearing test). Here's what to expect...
- First, we will look at the outside of your ear and examine the external auditory canal for wax, deformations, and/or debris.
- Second, we perform tympanometry which is a painless examination of your middle ear. During tympanometry a small probe is placed in your ear which measures the pressure of this cavity. We look for abnormalities of the middle ear including fluid, negative pressure or ossicular (middle ear bones) problems.
- Third, we perform a hearing test. You will sit in a sound insulated booth with headphones on and complete two word tests to see how your ear and brain are processing speech. Then we do a pure tone test to verify the level of hearing you have from low to high frequency.
- Finally, your results will be discussed and we will make recommendations.
If you have hearing within normal limits, we will see you for annual monitoring and schedule your annual appointment for next year.
If you have a hearing loss that requires medical evaluation, you will be scheduled to see an Otolaryngologist or E.N.T. (Ear Nose and Throat Doctor) for a full medical work up.
The consequences of untreated hearing loss can be life altering, but the good news is that it only takes about 20 minutes to make sure that your auditory (hearing) system is performing the way that it should be. If you have Medicare or an HMO insurance plan, you will need a referral from your primary care provider to an audiologist. Take the time to make this important appointment — there are several options to help get your everyday life back on track!
Dr. Kelly Gibson, Au.D., is an audiologist in Merced who is currently accepting new patients. She is located at 410 E Yosemite Ave., in Suite B and her phone number is 209.400.9575. Please click here to view the insurances Dr. Gibson accepts and make an appointment.