Hearing health is integral to our overall well-being, yet many people neglect routine hearing tests until they notice symptoms of hearing loss. It’s crucial to be proactive in monitoring your auditory health, and that begins with opting for regular hearing tests to check your hearing.
Early detection of hearing loss is crucial, and there are two options for a hearing test in London; a Free hearing test and a Comprehensive hearing assessment. But what’s the difference? Dive into this blog post to demystify the distinctions and empower yourself to choose the right test for your needs.
- Free Hearing Tests:
Free hearing tests serve as preliminary screenings, offering a general overview of an individual’s hearing health. These tests are typically free, making them accessible to a broader audience. The process involves several key steps:
- Ear Assessments: The initial step includes thoroughly examining the ear canal and eardrums using an otoscope. This helps identify any blockages, such as earwax or foreign objects, ensuring a clear pathway for sound through the middle and inner ear structures. It is advised to have your ears cleared before coming for a free hearing test because if ear wax blockage is found at this step, you would have to pay for an ear wax removal or reschedule your appointment. Either way, an accurate hearing test cannot be done when there is a blockage in your ear canal.
- The Hearing Test: After the ear assessment, your audiologist will test your hearing by playing sounds at various pitches through a pair of headphones for you. Your task is just to press a button each time you hear a sound in the soundproof booth and the results will be recorded in an audiogram.
- Diagnosis/Result: If the results from your hearing test reveal a need for a hearing aid, your audiologist will discuss suitable hearing aid options tailored to your specific needs.
- Comprehensive Hearing Test:
Comprehensive hearing assessments, in contrast, involve a more detailed approach with additional evaluations both before and after the hearing test. These in-depth evaluations offer a much clearer picture of your hearing health and most times come at a given fee. Here’s what to expect:
- General Ear Canal Check: Similar to free hearing tests, this involves using an otoscope to examine the ear canal and eardrums to check the overall health of your ears and for blockages of ear wax or foreign objects. Ensuring an unobstructed pathway for sound remains a critical step in comprehensive assessments.
- Possible Earwax Removal: Unlike free tests, a comprehensive assessment may include an earwax removal procedure if blockages are detected. If there is, an ear wax removal procedure would have to be carried out to clear the pathway so an accurate hearing test can be carried out. This is necessary for comprehensive assessments to ensure that sound has a clear pathway through the structures of your middle and inner ears.
- The Hearing Test: Following the initial assessments your audiologist will then proceed to test your hearing by playing sounds at different pitches through a pair of headphones. Usually done in a quiet booth, you’ll be asked to wear a special headband that will test how well you hear sounds, evaluating your response to sounds and vibrations. The test is performed according to the British Society of Audiology procedural standards.
- Speech test: A speech-in-noise test is usually performed to find out the patient’s ability to hear in the presence of background noise.
- Result/ Recommendations: If a possible hearing loss is confirmed through the results from the audiogram, your audiologist will guide you through available hearing aid options suitable for your specific needs.
- Hearing Aid Trial: A unique feature of comprehensive assessments is the opportunity for a free hearing aid trial. Once a suitable hearing aid style has been chosen, your audiologist will program it to fit the degree of your hearing loss and conduct additional tests to ensure sound clarity and proper functionality. These hearing aid trial durations do vary, lasting from 2-4 weeks, depending on the hearing clinic you choose.
Free hearing tests are ideal for a quick, preliminary check, especially if you suspect hearing loss. They offer a basic snapshot and can trigger further investigation. If you experience noticeable hearing difficulties, however, a comprehensive hearing assessment is invaluable. It provides a nuanced understanding of your hearing challenges, empowers you to make informed decisions about hearing aids, and ensures long-term treatment success.
Ultimately, the choice depends on your needs and preferences. If you need more clarification, consult your GP or an audiologist for guidance. Remember, taking charge of your hearing health is key to maintaining the rich soundscape of life, and London offers options to suit your circumstances. So, listen up, and choose the test that empowers you to hear the world at its best!