Baseline Hearing Screens

Baseline Hearing Tests and Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

A hearing test can usually identify whether hearing loss is the result of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Our ear canals are like passive equalizers that naturally accentuate around 3 kHz and 6 kHz. These are the frequencies where human speech is most pronounced. Because our ear canals naturally increase the volume at these frequencies, they are the most likely to suffer hearing loss when we encounter dangerously loud sound levels. 

If your hearing test shows more hearing loss at 3 and 6 kHz than other frequencies, it is likely that noise exposure is the cause of that hearing loss. While NIHL seemed to be on the decline at the turn of the millennium, it is on the rise again today. Already, 10% of millennials have hearing loss, and 17% of Gen-Z’ers have it. 

This is especially troubling since Gen-Z is the younger generation. Why are we seeing this increase in hearing loss? It’s not exactly clear, but there are a number of likely culprits:

Whatever the cause may be, it’s time to put a stop to NIHL! Baseline hearing tests are an important part of doing that. By getting a baseline hearing test, you can identify your hearing ability at that time. Then, by getting regular hearing tests, your audiologist can compare your new test to your previous tests and identify whether you are adequately protecting your hearing.

Baseline Hearing Tests and Complete Audiometric Hearing Tests

A baseline hearing test is only helpful if you come in for regular hearing tests. The Better Hearing Institute, a non-profit organization, recommends getting a hearing test once every decade until age 50, and once every three years after that.

Those in higher-risk professions or with a medical history indicating a higher risk should be tested more frequently. The best way to ensure that hearing loss can be prevented effectively is to get a hearing test once a year.

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) can be caused by about 8 hours of exposure to sound levels averaging 85 dBA (decibels A-weighted). 85 dBA is about the level produced by a gas-powered lawnmower. If you are exposed to noise reaching 85 dBA at your place of employment, your employer is required to provide a baseline hearing screening as well as annual hearing screenings.

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An Elderly Man Getting An Auditory Test

By getting a hearing test once a year, your audiologist can compare your new tests to your previous tests and make sure that you are not accidentally incurring hearing loss.

As we all know, there is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss (the broader category containing NIHL, age-related hearing loss, and most other types of hearing loss). Prevention is the only way to make sure that you can hear your best for as long as possible.

If hearing loss does become an issue, a treatment plan involving hearing aids is the best way to ensure that hearing loss does not cause undue changes to your lifestyle and overall health and well-being. Untreated hearing loss brings with it a host of complications that can be avoided simply by wearing hearing aids, so it’s important to start wearing them as soon as a hearing issue is identified. Mild hearing loss is defined as 20- or 25–40 dBHL (decibels hearing level) of hearing loss, and should be treated with hearing aids.

By getting a hearing test once a year, your audiologist can compare your new tests to your previous tests and make sure that you are not accidentally incurring hearing loss. As we all know, there is no cure for sensorineural hearing loss (the broader category containing NIHL, age-related hearing loss, and most other types of hearing loss). Prevention is the only way to make sure that you can hear your best for as long as possible.

If hearing loss does become an issue, a treatment plan involving hearing aids is the best way to ensure that hearing loss does not cause undue changes to your lifestyle and overall health and well-being. Untreated hearing loss brings with it a host of complications that can be avoided simply by wearing hearing aids, so it’s important to start wearing them as soon as a hearing issue is identified. Mild hearing loss is defined as 20- or 25–40 dBHL (decibels hearing level) of hearing loss, and should be treated with hearing aids.

Baseline Hearing Screens for Noisy Work Environments
Adult Male Having a Hearing Test at Audiology Center

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.

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Women Having a Hearing Test

"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.

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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).

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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.

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what are the 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.

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Gulf Gate Hearing Aid Center offers complete audiometric evaluations, ear wax removal, hearing aid sales, repairs & programming, and related products & services.
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