You get your vision & dental health checked annually, so shouldn’t you get your hearing health checked every year as well? May is Better Hearing & Speech Month, and almost every hearing care professional offers free screenings as a public service. What’s more, even if your hearing is good, these screening results can be forwarded to your doctor to become part of your medical records. Especially if you are a shooter, motorcycle rider, concert goer, or are otherwise exposed to recreational &/or occupational noise, these screenings can tell you more than the sometimes-dodgy school and OSHA hearing screenings.
Many years ago ASHA designated May as Better Hearing Month, and encouraged their members to offer free hearing screenings to people of all ages as a public service; and quickly other professional organizations such as IHS signed on; and every year many tens of thousands more people are taking advantage of this offer. In addition, several years ago ASHA changed the designation to Better Hearing & Speech month, as many audiologists are also trained in basic speech disorder diagnosis & therapy. Yes, this is somewhat of a come-on; but for we professionals in fact it’s actually quite satisfying when we give the all-clear to a patient.
The basic screening takes about 5-10 minutes, and consists of an otoscopic visual inspection to look for impacted wax, irritation, and assess your eardrums’ condition. Then, you’ll slip on headphones and listen for very faint sounds to measure your audiometric thresholds; and also in many cases — and we at The Hearing Blog highly recommend — a quick speech perception test where you’ll repeat back single-syllable words presented using recorded speech. Then, the professional will review your results, make any recommendations, and forward your results to your primary care doctor to include in your medical records to establish a baseline for future needs such as if sudden hearing loss occurs. Also, in the event a medical condition is uncovered, the professional will also refer you to an ENT for appropriate treatment.
Where to go & what to bring along:
There are many thousands of hearing care professionals, including almost all hearing aid dispensers and audiologists, who participate in #BHSM. However, you’ll often get a better screening if the facility also fits hearing aids: As it turns out, hearing aid sales practices at both independent and chain offices are tightly regulated in every state, including the crucial test methods and equipment. You can quickly locate a whole list of nearby providers on the independent HearingTracker.com website, one of the various chain websites or other facilities we know well in the list below, or by typing into Google “hearing aids (your town).”
Before you leave for your annual hearing screening, print out this two page form and fill out the questionnaire portion on the first page; and also fill in your Doctor’s name, phone and fax numbers, and address, so the hearing professional can forward the results to him to add to your medical records. Even if your hearing is good now, it’s smart to have a baseline audiogram for down the road if trouble arises: For example, if you have sudden sensorineural hearing loss this baseline audiogram can expedite diagnosis and time-critical treatment. Also, if you wear hearing protection devices (HPD’s) bring them all along as well for them to be inspected, quickly cleaned, and also to verify you’re using them correctly, such as inserting foam earplugs properly. Also, be sure to discuss any difficulties you’re having with your HPD’s, such as the airtight seal breaking from the cheek weld with your long gun, as this has been a recurring problem with shooters.
Hearing aid chains offering free hearing health screenings:
- Miracle Ear
- Connect Hearing
- Livingston Audiology (Texas & New Mexico)
- Center for Hearing and Communication in NYC
[formerly the New York League for the Hard-of-Hearing from 1912 to 2009]
- The Hearing Blog’s printable #BHSM Hearing Screening Form
- Hearing care professional directory on HearingTracker.com
- International Hearing Society (IHS)
- American Academy of Audiology (AAA)
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
- Hearing Like Me (Phonak)
- National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA)
- Gun Goddess
- Big Bang Bling: Fashionable Gun Accessories For Women on CBSDFW.com
[Hat tip: Judy Rhodes in Dallas]