Hear! Hear! FAQs About The National Hearing Test
At age 65, one out of three people has a hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. In older people, a hearing loss is often mistaken for a condition such as dementia. People with hearing loss are more likely to report depression, dissatisfaction with life, impaired function, and withdrawal from social activities. Thus, it is important for all adults to consider having a hearing screening.
Have you ever heard of the National Hearing Test? It’s a screening test you can take over the telephone which will indicate whether you need to contact a professional in your area for a full-scale evaluation of your hearing. The test was developed by scientists at Indiana University with a grant from the National Institutes of Health and has been found to be a reliable and valid a predictor of pure-tone losses. We hope these answers to frequently asked questions about this screening service will be helpful. For more details, visit the National Hearing Test website at https://www.nationalhearingtest.org/wordpress/?page_id=75
How does the National Hearing Test work?
The individual uses a telephone to listen to several spoken sequences of three-digit numbers (such as “5 – 3 – 1”) and uses the phone’s keypad to enter what he or she heard. When the caller enters the numbers correctly, the next numbers are presented at a lower, more difficult level and with varying background noise. Immediately after the test, you are told the results for each ear (within, slightly below or substantially below normal range). You can then contact a professional for further screening if appropriate.
Does the test detect all kinds of hearing loss?
The National Hearing Test is designed to measure the ability to understand speech in the presence of interfering noise. It is very effective at detecting age-related hearing loss and problems resulting from exposure to loud noises. It might not detect conductive deafness, a disorder caused by a problem in the ear canal or the middle ear preventing the conduction of sound energy, or serious conditions such as acoustic tumors.
Is the test free?
There is a small $5.00 charge to help defray the cost of making the test widely available to the public and processing test data. The National Hearing Test has no financial connections with any hearing products or services. They are not trying to sell hearing aids or steer you to participating doctors.
What do I have to have to take the test?
You, or someone helping you, will need access to a computer, a credit or debit card to pay the $5.00 fee, and a landline corded telephone in a quiet room. You will need a pencil and paper to write down the results.
How do we get started?
Go to the National Hearing Test website (http://www.nationalhearingtest.org/wordpress/) and click on the Get Started button. There will be a link for you to click to answer a few questions and to pay the fee with a credit or debit card. You will be given a ten-digit access code number. Go into a quiet room where there is a telephone plugged into a wall-mounted jack (cell phones are too unreliable). Dial the toll-free number (1-866-223-7575), listen to the instructions and use the keypad to enter your access code. Listen to the spoken series of numbers; use the keypad to report what you heard. The test takes about 4 minutes for each ear. As soon as you have completed the test, you will be told the results for your left ear and your right ear, and you should write these down.
What should I do with the test results?
If your hearing screening indicates that your hearing is normal, you can be thankful that you are not one of the approximately 36 million Americans who have significant hearing loss. If the test shows your hearing is below normal range, you should call a certified hearing professional and schedule a thorough exam, which may include taking your case history, doing an examination of your ear canal using an otoscope, and administration of tests such pure-tone testing, speech-recognition testing, middle-ear testing, auditory brainstem testing, and/or otoacoustic emissions testing.
Is the test useful for someone who has hearing aids?
People who have hearing aids already know their hearing is impaired, so the test would be of little value. If it seems that the individual’s ability to hear has declined even with the hearing aids, contact the doctor or business from which they were obtained.
Can I use the National Hearing Test to check my child’s hearing?
No. The test has been validated only for adults.
When left untreated, hearing loss can lead to job problems and income reduction, social isolation, embarrassment and significantly lower quality of life. Hearing loss is irreversible, but if caught early on, steps can be taken to keep it from getting worse. At McNeely Stephenson, we encourage you to spend the small amount of money and time the National Hearing Test takes, and help your older family members do so as well.