Pardon? Have a Go News journalist shares his hearing test experience

To hear for life, listen with care!

LISTENING to rock’n’roll band Fatty Lumpkin at the Sandgroper in the Leederville Hotel, a front-row seat at a Deep Purple concert at Subiaco Oval in the days when noise restrictions didn’t seem to mean much, and years of listening to records with the volume at maximum to write a music column in the old Sunday Independent newspaper have taken their toll on Allen’s hearing.

He shares his story;

While my hearing seems perfectly fine in face-to-face conversations, over the phone, and even watching the telly, in social environments with lots of conversations going on, I’m finding it a bit hard to keep track of who is saying what. So, when my local pharmacist was offering free hearing checks, I thought it was a good opportunity to see if there was a solution. I went and sat in a booth at the chemist shop wearing a pair of headphones and duly pressed a button every time I heard a beep in various pitches. Going through the results I was a bit surprised and perplexed to be told that my hearing was actually pretty good, I didn’t need to do anything and to come back next year for another check. I talked about not being able to hear very well in social environments but the lady doing the tests said that was pretty normal and that if I spent more time out and about my hearing would tune in to those conversations. While I was pleased to come away with a clean bill of health it still seemed a bit odd to me that my hearing still ranked as ‘normal’.

A few weeks later I was asked to write a piece for Have a Go News about the Lions Hearing Clinic staff spending a month wearing hearing aids to experience what their clients were going through. As part of that story, I talked about my puzzlement at being told there was nothing wrong with my hearing. The Lions audiologists looked at the results from my earlier hearing test and suggested that rather than the quick test I’d had done at the pharmacy I should go in and do a full 70-minute test.

I booked myself in to see the lovely Bianca at the clinic in Midland. The testing this time was more elaborate than measuring which beeps I could hear. Bianca played male and female voices saying sentences that I had to repeat with increasing levels of background noise being played each time until I was not able to work out what was being said. Bianca explained that the quick hearing tests weren’t really designed to delve into all the aspects of an individual’s hearing that people were concerned about. A detailed discussion about a client’s concerns was more likely to get to the heart of the issue. Hence the reason for my testing with different levels of background noise to the conversation I was listening to.

It seems while my hearing was okay, hearing at the higher range was starting to drop off enough to be creating issues, putting me on the cusp of making hearing aids useful in helping me interpret conversations. My $100 fee also included a week’s trial of a sleek set of Phonak hearing aids to see how much of an impact they made on my hearing. They’ve come a long way since the ugly lump I remember my grandfather wearing. The small, stylish earpieces come with their own Bluetooth app connected to your phone which controls volume, counts steps, monitors heart rate, and has a restaurant setting. Bianca said that while many clients were looking for discreet hearing aids some wanted to show them off and asked for their hearing aids to be bright pink. More usually though people matched them with the colour of their hair.

While I can’t see myself heading for the pub to test my hearing against the door doof of today’s music I’m looking forward to seeing how well they work at dinner with a group of friends. My conversation with Bianca didn’t dive too deeply into cost, this was more about seeing what will work for me, but she did talk broadly about prices ranging from several hundred to many thousands of dollars. But she said Lions Hearing wasn’t in the business of selling hearing aids, it was all about finding the right solution for each client. So, I have my hearing aids in and switched on and I’ve connected to the app, let’s see if they make a difference.

By Allen Newton

Derived from Have a Go News found here.  Published December 2022.

Do you need a hearing assessment?

If you experience problems understanding speech and conversations in noise, get your hearing tested.  An audiologist will conduct a thorough hearing examination, including a pure tone audiometry test and a speech-in-noise test if the audiogram shows that your hearing is normal.  This involves repeating back words and sentences played or spoken during background noise.