Written by: Bogna Sobanska
World Hearing Day - how's your hearing?
I’ve been meaning to do a hearing test for some time now. A few years ago I started to notice that I struggle to hear in noisy environments, for example when I go out with friends to a restaurant or café. I often have to ask if someone can repeat what they said, I lean forward, but I still have a problem with distinguishing different words. It’s particularly difficult when there’s a lot of background noise behind the speaker. . The other thing I noticed is that sometimes I can hear random ringing in my ears…
I have become so much more aware of hearing loss, what can cause it and hearing care in general since I started working for AudioTelligence two years ago. The breakthrough moment for me turned out to be the user trials which I worked on last year. I was amazed to find out how much difference our technology, which helps people hear better in noisy environments, made to my hearing. This was a signal that I needed to do something about it. But of course, as a busy person, I’m not very good at looking after myself, so I’ve been putting off the moment of action. Finally, I came to the conclusion that I have to start somehow – and what better occasion to check your hearing than World Hearing Day…?
World Hearing Day
World Hearing Day is an annual global advocacy event run by WHO for raising awareness regarding hearing loss and promoting ear and hearing care, and calling for action to address hearing loss and related issues. Did you know ear and hearing problems are among the most common problems encountered in the community and over 60% of these can be identified and addressed at the primary level of care…
>> You can find out more here: World Hearing Day 2023 (who.int) <<
I decided to sign up for a free 30-minute hearing test. I live in the UK and these tests are thankfully very accessible here. After a bit of googling I decided to book a test with SpecSavers as they have quite a few branches in the region where I live, in Cambridgeshire. Booking a test is very easy and takes 10 minutes: you just go to the Specsavers website and click the ‘Hearing’ tab and then ‘Book a free Hearing test’. Then find a specific location and book a test – I manage to book mine 5 days in advance. There is also information available on the website about what to expect on the test itself so you can be prepared.
The day of the test finally arrived – and I must admit I was a little nervous, a little afraid of what I might find out…
>> Watch my vlog here <<
30 minutes later I was done – what I found out and how the test was done was very interesting. The audiologist tested my ears by playing sounds at different pitches through a pair of headphones and asking me to press a button every time I heard a sound. Afterwards I got a hearing report generated from an AudioPad Hearing Check. My hearing check indicated that I can within normal limits and I don’t require a full hearing assessment with one of their Hearing Aid Audiologists.
What did transpire though is that I can definitely hear better through my right, rather than the left ear, which makes sense as I tend to lean forward with my right ear if I can’t hear very well. It’s good to understand that this is the case
My audiogram explained
I’d like to share the result of my audiogram in the hope that it will inspire somebody to get their ears checked too! Here’s what I found out.
Across the bottom of the chart are the frequencies tested, from low pitched on the left (500Hz and 1000 Hz) to high pitched on the right (2000Hz and 4000Hz).
The level of hearing is recorded down the side of the chart and represents the loudness of tones in decibels, from very soft at the top to very loud at the bottom.
My hearing thresholds are the faintest volume levels at which I can hear tones played at a particular frequency and are shown for both ears tested, the blue lines and crosses represent my left ear, while the Red lines and circles represent my right ear. The lower down the chart the lines are, the poorer my hearing is.
Low frequencies of sounds found in speech (125Hz – 1000 Hz) are largely responsible for a person’s interpretation of the volume of speech. Higher frequencies (1500+ Hz) are responsible for the clarity of speech. Some of the high-frequency elements of speech include those made by words containing letters such as “f”, “ph”, “th”, “s” and “t”.
Because these sounds are difficult for someone with high-frequency loss to hear, they may often mistake what has been said.
With regards to the ringing I keep hearing occasionally (called tinnitus) – it’s difficult to diagnose what might have caused it. I was really surprised to find out that it can be caused by stress too..Which makes perfect sense as I do recall I started hearing it for the first time several years ago when I was going through a difficult time.
The audiologist I spoke to told me that is ear wax removal can help with tinnitus and that I should speak to my GP (General Practitioner) about the ringing I hear. It is possible to get a referral and get the earwax removed on the NHS, which is amazing!
I’m so glad I did this – I feel calmer, I can understand my body better and I can now proceed to try and make my life more comfortable.
I totally appreciate that I’m privileged, that I live in a country where I’ve got access to a free hearing test, where I have access to a free, universal healthcare system that can support my journey. We sometimes forget how lucky we really are and so it’s important we use the tools we have access to; as others in different parts of the world don’t.
So my question to you is:
- How’s your hearing?
- Are you worried about it?
- If so, perhaps you too can consider a free hearing test…?
You have to start somewhere…