The hearing test

The hearing test is crucially important because your hearing aids are going to be programmed on the basis of its results. Get the hearing test wrong and there will be good reason for you to end up saying that you can't get on with hearing aids. In fact you may need a new hearing test.

The hearing test is the first step to better hearing - the first step after seeing a hospital consultant if you are going with the NHS*. However, the hearing test is not the first entry in the section on hearing aids because, if you read the pages in order, you really will appreciate what can go wrong if a hearing test isn't done effectively. The pages on hearing aids are in the Coping menu.

Hearing aid tests are provided free with the NHS, but are also normally provided free with private hearing aid suppliers. You may like to try a private test, for a relatively quick objective view of your hearing loss. Bear in mind, though, that almost everyone has some degree of hearing loss, and private suppliers will probably press you to buy.

Difficulties with hearing tests

I have had two hearing tests recently and they have given results which were substantially different.

In the first case this was my fault, in that I never believed that hearing aids would work for me, as they never had before. I didn't give wrong responses, but I didn't give carefully considered ones either - and I refused a full test on one ear because of its extreme sensitivity following my ear operation.

In the second case, the test was a very detailed hour-long one, not specifically for hearing aids, but to see if it would be worthwhile having the operation on my other ear. For this test, I co-operated fully. Essentially, though, I still had to say when I could just hear a sound at one extreme and when it became painfully loud at the other extreme.

Both these extremes are actually impossible to identify accurately:

As the volume of a particular sound is progressively lowered, one expects it, and almost 'feels' that it is there, irrespective of whether one would actually 'hear' it in the normal way. Similarly as the sound is made louder and louder, one is again ready for it, and one steels oneself for it, whereas in normal life, it it occurred in isolation, it would be painfully loud. I believe that this is something that everyone should be aware of when taking a hearing test, although I don't know what advice to offer to deal with it. Anyway, I couldn't get on with the hearing aids programmed to the second test, whereas, when programmed back to the first test, they became useable again.

Difficulties with taking impressions for the ear moulds

At the hearing test, the audiologist or other supplier will take impressions for the earpieces of the hearing aids. This involves inserting a soft, pliable material into the ears; it quickly hardens and faithfully reproduces the shape that the earpieces must take.

So far, so good. However, I was simply told to relax while the material was setting, and I now think that a little more advice might have been in order, in view of how uncomfortably the resulting earpieces seemed to press against the insides of my ears. When the moulds for my later soft, flexible earpieces were taken, I slightly clenched my jaws together, which I hoped would produce a more comfortable fit. Whether it did or not, I can't be sure, because the over-riding difference was that the newer earpieces were - and are - more flexible.


* The NHS is the UK's National Health Service which is free at the point of delivery.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is for a lay audience and I cannot be responsible for errors or omissions. The views, strategies, advice and suggestions etc are based on my personal experience and are not necessarily appropriate for anyone else. They should, hopefully, stimulate individuals to develop their own strategies.