Do You Dread Getting Your Hearing Tested?

I dread getting my hearing tested. First of all, it is never fun to be shut in a quiet room knowing you are about to fail a test. And it’s not because I didn’t study hard enough! It can also be frightening to see if my hearing loss has progressed since the last test. Knowing my family history, there is a high risk that my hearing loss will continue to worsen over time. But the hardest part is often the tinnitus. How am I supposed to take the test when I already hear so many sounds of my own making? I find myself wondering, “Is that tone I hear part of the test or is it my tinnitus?”

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My tinnitus usually sounds like a fluorescent light bulb, but can also manifest as a sustained high pitch tone. It would be easier to edit out the tinnitus from the hearing test if it always sounded the same, but many times it has a unique sound quality which is hard to identify. Plus, my anxiety level is always a little elevated, which probably kicks my tinnitus into overdrive.

I am typically an eager test-taker — I always loved tests in school (don’t laugh) — so it is just in my DNA to try to do well on the hearing test. Perhaps that makes me a bit overzealous since I tend to have many false positives, which makes my hearing test reliability fairly low. When I review the results, I always wonder if any stability in my hearing test is real or if I just got lucky this time with the false positives. I guess I will never really know.

Despite these challenges, I have gotten my hearing tested every couple of years for the past 20 years. In this way, I have been able to watch as my high pitch hearing went from perfect to a mild loss, and my mid-range frequency hearing dropped further into moderate loss territory. My low pitch hearing has remained in the mild loss range for much of this time.

When I really want to scare myself, I look at my father’s old hearing test. I have one from when he was in his 60s. Since my loss is genetic, I wonder if this will be my fate. His mid-range and high pitch hearing were deep in the severe loss range while his lower frequencies were in the moderate loss area. I only have the one test so I don’t know how severe his loss was at my age, but it is hard for me to imagine what my hearing would be like with such a steep drop off in my higher pitches, even 20 years from now.

Despite my trepidation about the tests, I think knowledge is power and so I continue to get my hearing tested regularly. I also try to keep abreast of new developments in hearing aid technology and stay current on the leading scientific research being done in this space. The good news is that advancements are being made consistently, and as my hearing continues to worsen, there will likely be even better technological and/or biological products available. Let’s hope so.

Readers, do you dread getting your hearing tested?

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24 thoughts on “Do You Dread Getting Your Hearing Tested?

  1. My favorite audiologist moment was when I was in the booth, attentively listening for the beeps and raising my hand. At one point, my audiologist got up, opened the booth door, and said, “Kathi, there haven’t been any beeps for the last couple of minutes.” My tinnitus is so clever….

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  2. It is scary to say the least and brings tears to me each time it is done. I see it most in my practical everyday life and it is frustrating even with the hearing aids.
    Lots of tears yesterday when I realized how that it has gone from bad to worse just in the last few months. Hard to live in a world of hearing people and they have no idea what you face on a daily basis. This is my pity party this a.m. I guess.
    Thanks for reminder as today is my day to visit the audiologist…

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  3. I dread them too for the very same reasons. We did have a good laugh though the last time as I was repeating words. He gave me the word “yearn” and to my ears it sounded like “urine”. The look on my face must have been priceless because my Audi and I both started cracking up. I knew it couldn’t be urine because that was 2 syllables, but I was so certain. I never said the word but the Audi knew. We finally stopped laughing and then started up another roll of giggles. It was quite the moment, I’ll tell you.

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  4. A timely post, Shari. For the first time ever I am having an appointment with an ENT next week, preceded by a meeting with a new audiologist in that same office. I assume there will be a hearing test since I have not had one for several years. My purpose in setting this up is that I want a fresh analysis of my condition. My long time audiologist has made it clear that he is not interested in any kind of help other than haring aids and related appliances he sells. I had to ask him to turn on my telecoil about which he had little positive to say. He debunked audio loops because there is no money in that technology for him. I feel patronized. I don’t know where this will lead but I do feel I have not been well served for the past 18 years. So we’ll see what happens. i’m not expecting miracles but I do hope to encounter more complete information,

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    • Good points. The audiologists who are mostly into generating sales of aids and peripherals do not do the profession, as a whole, any good. I read a good article by Barbara Compton-Conley recently in which she gave a few reasons (all good ones) to find a new audiologist (like being offered a price list for hearing aids before any discussion of your listening needs). I’ve heard, too many times, “my audiologist told me I don’t need t-coils.” Maybe you don’t NEED them, just to give the benefit of the doubt, but you might want and enjoy them when you are at performance at the local library auditorium and can just push the button, sit back, relax, and hear.

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    • I just recently left my audiologist of 25 years! He has no personality at all but the real issue was I found him to be not helpful at all. I dreaded going to have repairs, tests etc. My new hearing aid clinic is like a breath of fresh air…

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  5. One day I had a bigger loss of hearing than normal, plus loss of balance, and the ringing in my ears were loud. The ENT checked me out and said it was an allergy and it was causing swelling against the nerve. After taking some medicine, I had my normal hearing loss again. Getting tested is not bad.

    BTW I saw your article in Hearing Loss Magazine.

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  6. My audiologist was awesome at my last test. She acknowledged to me how hard the test is and that it really is a lot of work. I appreciated her encouragement because it is so draining and emotional to take, and as you said, fail the test over and over. And when you are getting tested for cochlear implant candidacy the tests are even harder! Yikes. And I have cried after my tests lots of times. I have yet to receive excellent news from any hearing test. The best has been “no significant change.”

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  7. PS. Thanks for your blog. I’m enjoying reading your posts – I just found about you/your blog from the Hearing Loss Magazine. I’ll keep reading! I need to work on my self advocacy and losing the “shame” factor as you have.

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  8. I had my hearing tested yesterday for the first time in years. The AuD level audiologist was shocked that this was the case. After she ran the test she made it clear that a different hearing aid in my left ear would be much better than the one I was using and explained why. She also said that due to the profound asymmetrical nature of my hearing loss that I would likely qualify for a cochlear implant in that ear. I then had a session with the ENT with whom she is associated and after his examination he agreed. So the upshot of all this is that I am awaiting an appointment with a doctor in Boston who does implants to have an evaluation at that level. I don’t know what to expect, but my doctor is optimistic about the outcome should we decide that an implant should be done. I am a little anxious – to say the least.

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