Frequently Asked Questions

What is involved in a hearing test?

The Hearing Instrument Practitioner will take a case history to discuss hearing challenges and medical history. An otoscope is used to examine the ear canal and eardrum. The Practitioner will also measure the health of the middle ear by performing immittance and acoustic reflex tests. In a soundproof booth, via foam plugs or headphones, both pure-tones and speech sounds are presented. You are asked to indicate when a tone is audible and to repeat words when presented. A bone conductor is also used to assess the type of hearing loss. The results are transcribed onto an audiogram.

What is an audiogram?

An audiogram is a graphic representation of the results of a hearing test. During a hearing test, sounds are presented at different frequencies and intensities. The softest sound the individual can hear at each frequency is recorded on the graph. The Hearing Instrument Practitioner uses the results of the hearing test to establish if there is a hearing loss, the nature and degree of the hearing loss and hearing instrument options.

Would I notice my hearing loss?

Not necessarily. 

Hearing loss often develops slowly and can go undetected for some time. In fact, it is quite common that the signs of hearing loss are first detected by family and friends. Unfortunately, many people who suspect they have a hearing loss are reluctant to seek help. 

Untreated, hearing loss can have a negative impact socially, psychologically and cognitively. It is recommended to have a hearing test as soon as a loss is suspected is really the best advice.

What are some common signs of hearing loss?

  • You struggle to understand conversations in groups or in the presence of background noise.
  • You frequently misunderstand parts of conversation or need to ask people to repeat themselves.
  • You believe that "everybody mumbles" or "people don't speak as clearly as they used to".
  • Friends and family have complained that the level at which you listen to the television or radio is too loud.
  • You find you it difficult to hear if you are not able to watch people's faces or if people are trying to talk to you from a distance.
  • You become anxious, irritable, or exhausted from trying to hear.

Will hearing aids restore my hearing to normal?

The most common type of hearing loss is sensorineural or "nerve deafness". 

Because there is damage to the nerves that transmit signals to the brain; simply making sounds louder will not always make them perfectly clear. Hearing aids are designed to provide varying amounts of volume for different frequencies. This allows the Hearing Instrument Practitioner to program the hearing aid to amplify the sounds you are missing without making sounds you already hear too loud. As a result, speech understanding is improved and less listening effort is required.

Will my hearing aids help in the presence of background noise?

Understanding speech in background noise is one of the most common complaints for those with hearing loss.

Advancements in hearing aid technology, directional microphones for example, are designed specifically to improve speech understanding in noise. The overall benefit will depend on a variety of factors such as degree of hearing loss, frequency of use and the style of hearing aid selected.

Why do I need two hearing aids?

Two hearing aids are often recommended for individuals that have bilateral hearing loss, which means a hearing loss in both ears. Our brain uses cues from both ears to determine which direction sounds are coming from, allowing us to locate the source of the sound. Wearing only one hearing aid comprises this ability and therefore, is not as effective as wearing two. Providing stimulus to the brain from both ears allows for better spatial awareness, fuller sound quality and improved speech understanding in noisy environments.

How do I go about getting my hearing tested?

You can use our website's Find a Practitioner feature to locate an AHIP member in your area.