This page provides a practical at-home exercise you can use to better understand hearing loss in yourself or a loved one. This process might reveal whether or not you might have sensorineural or conductive hearing loss. If your approach here, or free online hearing test results give you cause for concern, stop by one of our three locations to get your hearing tested for free by our trained specialists ready to assist you.
We all know that friend or family member that says “what”, “huh”, or “stop mumbling!” all the time; some of us are that person! It is important to understand that hearing loss does not mean things sound like someone has turned the volume down on life. We can not stress this enough. Hearing loss is most commonly the loss of clarity. Speech begins to run together and simply put, get blurry. If you look at hearing loss like vision loss you can better understand it. When your eyesight goes bad you don’t see less color the images seem to just run together and objects get blurry and hard to distinguish from one another. Well sound is very similar. With sound, it all begins to blend until all of the sounds in a room blend into one giant mess and you can’t distinguish anything. It all becomes a big blur.
If someone were to cover the view of their mouth and say to someone with a hearing loss: HAT, MAT CAT, FAT, PAT at a normal volume, someone with a high frequency hearing loss may hear just as loud as someone with perfect hearing. The difference is not volume; the difference is WHAT they hear. The person with a hearing loss would likely miss several, and in severe cases all of these words. When you ask the listener to repeat after the speaker, the listener will commonly hear HAT, HAT, PAT, PAT or any combination of these words. This is a great at-home hearing test to do with your loved ones. Give it a shot.
You have 1 listener and 1 speaker. The speaker covers their mouth so the listener cannot read their lips, but does not obstruct their speech. The Speaker should say the words at a normal talking volume, not louder or softer than normal conversation with someone with good hearing.
The Speaker will say 1 word at a time and the Listener will repeat the word they think they heard before moving on to the next word. The Speaker cannot repeat a word, the Listener should make their best guess.
What typically happens are the words sound repeated to the listener. This is because our brains do a great job at guessing what it can not understand. If you notice you miss any of these words when you try this you should consider a full hearing test and see what could cause this. It is typically some hearing loss and nerve damage as a result of the loss.
What is said:
HAT, MAT CAT, FAT, PAT
What is heard:
“hat, pat, pat, at, hat” or “hat, hat, hat, hat, hat”
This is an extreme example of someone with severe hearing loss. This at-home hearing test is not a way to diagnose a type of hearing loss, it is just a good exercise to do at home if you missed any of these words then we suggest you come in for a free test. Someone with perfect hearing would ideally get all of these words correct.
The two main types of hearing loss are Sensorineural and Conductive but there are several others out there. If you want more information contact one of our Hearing Care Professionals and they would gladly give you more information.
Sensorineural is by far the most common type of hearing loss a far second is Conductive. There are several other types of loss and the only way to really know is to have a comprehensive hearing test completed in a sound isolation booth. We do all of these tests and give you a better understanding of your loss and what to expect in the future as it progresses. We do all of this at no cost and with no obligation to ever purchase anything. What does this mean?
If someone were to cover the view of their mouth and say to someone with a hearing loss: HAT, MAT CAT, FAT, PAT at a normal volume, someone with a high frequency hearing loss may hear just as loud as someone with perfect hearing. The difference is not volume; the difference is WHAT they hear. The person with a hearing loss would likely miss several, and in severe cases all of these words. When you ask the listener to repeat after the speaker, the listener will commonly hear HAT, HAT, PAT, PAT or any combination of these words. This is a great at-home hearing test to do with your loved ones. Give it a shot. Do you miss words in sentences, or do your ears feel plugged? When you are missing words, the hearing loss is most likely sensorineural.
Sensorineural effects volume and clarity of sounds. It creates some of the following:
- Speech sounds like people are mumbling
- Difficulty following conversation with more than one speaker
- Noises may seem too loud or too quiet
- Trouble understanding speech with background noise
- Difficulty hearing women’s or children’s voices
- Missing normal life sounds (birds chirping, rain, leaves, and consonant sounds in speech)
- Ringing in the ear
- And more
Conductive hearing loss is less common, but it still affects millions of people worldwide. This type of loss sounds different than a Sensory Neural Loss. If your ears feel plugged, it is more likely related to a conductive hearing loss. Not to mention several other things such as ear wax, something trapped in your ear, or several other possibilities. A simple video otoscopic exam would let us know some of these are not the cause. We always show you your inner ear with a camera before every test.
To demonstrate a conductive hearing loss we have not come up with a game to play but it is simple enough to get a feel for it. All you need to do is gently cover your ears with your fingers. This will give you a subtraction of roughly 20 to 25 decibels of sound. You’ll feel plugged-up, and slightly hearing impaired. Interestingly, some people may tell you they don’t need hearing aids because they ONLY have a 30-decibel hearing loss. However, assuming you have normal hearing, when you plug your ears with your fingers, you’ll experience approximately a 25-decibel hearing loss, and you’ll quickly realize that even a very mild hearing loss is quite irritating and disconcerting!
If you want to take it further, go watch TV and adjust the volume to where you can hear everything that is being said without straining. Then plug your ears again and have someone adjust the volume for you until you like the level and can hear everything without straining. Then remove your fingers from your ears and now you have a slightly better understanding of why your loved ones with hearing loss tend to crank up the volume on those TV shows with soft speaking people.