How Old Are Your Ears? (Hearing Test)
Over time what’s known as hair cells in your ears are slowly damaged by constant use. And not just by loud music either, from everyday wear and tear too. The hair cells closest to your ear canal are the ones responsible for detecting higher frequencies, and they’re usually the first to go. So you can get an approximate idea of how much hearing you’ve already lost by listening to various high frequencies.
Headphones are definitely recommended here since your laptop’s or tablet’s speakers probably don’t have the highest fidelity. And don’t worry, there are no failures on this test, just a heap of guilt for not turning down your music back when your parents told you too.
If you’re anything like us, you haven’t heard the high-pitched tones of a hearing test since fifth grade. Remember how proud you were to raise your hand at the nice lady every few seconds to indicate everything was coming in loud and clear? Well, prepare to feel a lot less proud. The folks at AsapScience are here with a hearing test to show that even if you’re smarter than a fifth-grader, you probably can’t hear as well as one.
The video starts with a pitch of 8,000 Hz, which every non-hearing-impaired person under 500 ought to be able to hear, and cranks up the dial till it reaches 19,000 Hz, which you probably can’t hear unless you’re under 20, or a dog. Why are hearing tests always made up of annoying squeals rather than regular sounds? As the narrator explains, sound waves break and bend the hair cells that transmit sound through the ear canal. And as it happens, the hair cells in charge of higher pitches are the first ones hit by incoming sound, so they’re the first to go. The older you are, the less annoying the background noise on an airplane gets, because you simply can’t hear it.
How do we hear ?
Sound waves are created when air vibrates. To hear, the ear must change sound into electrical signals which the brain can interpret. The outer part of the ear (the pinna) funnels sound waves into the ear canal. When sound waves reach the eardrum they cause it to vibrate. Vibrations of the eardrum cause the tiny bones in the middle ear to move too. The last of these bones, stapes, passes on the vibrations to the fluid-filled chamber called the cochlea. When the cochlea receives the vibrations, the fluid inside it moves. As the fluid moves it causes the special sensory cells to create an electrical signal.
Short hearing tests
Some GPs and private hearing aid dispensers offer to do a short hearing test. These tests are usually free, take about 15 minutes, and can indicate if you have a hearing problem. As with online and over-the-phone hearing checks, short hearing tests are screening tests designed to alert you to the fact you may have hearing loss. They can’t tell for definite that you have a hearing problem.
If a short hearing test suggests you have a hearing problem, the next step is to have a full hearing assessment. A full hearing test will confirm whether you have a hearing problem and establish the type of hearing problem that you have.
Full hearing tests
The full hearing test appointment lasts up to an hour, and can be carried out by your GP surgery, hospital clinic, or by a private hearing aid dispenser.
Importance of Hearing Protection
If you’re around loud music a lot like I am, or if you are experiencing some hearing loss, I highly recommend getting a pair of hearing protection earplugs.
The Etymotic earlplugs don’t muffle the sound like conventional earplugs – they basically give you the same frequency response as without, but with a bit lower volume. If I wear them out to a club, they also help me carry on a conversation without yelling. Etymotic earbuds are also great in that they isolate your ear so you don’t have to turn up the volume as much on your MP3 player (ambient noise is one of the biggest reasons we turn up the volume).