Baseline Hearing Screens
A common argument we hear from those struggling to acknowledge their hearing loss is:
“If I had a hearing problem, my primary care physician would inform me.”
This is not always true. Unless you exhibit hearing loss symptoms at your primary care provider’s office, it is doubtful that your doctor would know that you are suffering from hearing loss. You usually meet your doctor in a small enclosed space, one-on-one. There is no background noise that you have to contend with. Perhaps he or she is standing or sitting close enough to you. They look at you when they talk, and they speak loudly and clearly. Many people can hear well in this setting unless they have a very severe hearing loss.
That’s why it is difficult for your doctor tell when you might have hearing loss, and that’s why most people would benefit from one of our baseline hearing screenings.
What is a Baseline Hearing Screen?
A baseline hearing screen is a comprehensive hearing test that provides a reference point for further audiometric tests in the future. This is the audiogram against which all audiograms are measured, making it possible to assess whether your hearing has changed since the original hearing test was conducted. This baseline can be used to determine whether you started with a mild, moderate, or even severe hearing loss.
This is a great test to take early adulthood, ideally in your 20s or 30s. Hearing loss occurs gradually, so it is important to have a simple hearing test that you can refer to if you notice any changes.
Baseline Hearing Screens for Noisy Work Environments
If you are the employer of a company that operates in a noisy industry, these baseline tests may be legally required for your employees. To order to comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for workplace hearing protection programs, all workers whose work environment subjects them to a noise level of 85 dB over an eight-hour span are required to complete a hearing test for the purpose of producing a specific audiogram.
The assessment is to be carried out at the employer’s expense and must be carried out within the first six months of employment. The initial results are not all that important, rather it is the relative results over time that must be monitored as part of a hearing conservation program.
With a simple audiogram on record, the employee can have a test done annually. These regular hearing tests are then compared to the established baseline result, allowing the manager to take appropriate action when a change in hearing is observed. These adjustments are reported as a Standard Threshold Shift (STS).
Standard Threshold Shift
The Standard Threshold Change is a measurable shift in hearing relative to a baseline audiogram. OSHA describes a significant change as a shift of 10 dB or more at 2000, 3000 and 4000 Hz in any ear.
If a change is detected, follow-up action is needed by both the employer and the employee. The employer is obliged to inform the worker of the hearing change within 21 days and to refer them to an audiologist for follow-up care.
Benefits of Baseline Hearing Tests
Even if you’re not working in a noisy environment, it’s still a good idea to get one. Many people had would struggle to remember the last time they got their hearing tested. It’s a smart idea to have your hearing tested once a year.
Whether hearing loss is acquired through work or leisure activities, the effects are the same. Hearing loss is frequently connected to feelings of social isolation, anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, and even dementia. It’s important to monitor your hearing so that you don’t lose sight of any major changes to your hearing. This data can be used for an audiologist to most effectively treat your hearing loss in the future.
It takes an average of seven years for people to seek treatment for their hearing loss. In that time, a lot of precious hours connecting fully with friends, family members and workplace peers are lost. Be proactive with your hearing and schedule a baseline hearing screen with us today!