AD- Review in collaboration with Leightons
Since having my children there have been a few things that have started to, well, er, go wrong with my body. The greys, the bags under my eyes, the bad back and most recently my eyesight– thanks relaxin hormones! So, when Leightons got in contact to ask if I’d like to go for a hearing test my first thoughts were ‘oh, that sounds great’ and my second thoughts immediately went ‘oh, no, please don’t tell me I’m going deaf too?!’ Well, there was only one way to find out and I was really interested to know so I agreed to pop along to my local branch here in Basingstoke to undergo a comprehensive hearing test.
For me, customer service is everything. Having worked in retail for over 8 years I am a bit of stickler for smiling faces, being greeted and having everything explained to me. I was not disappointed at all by their service. As soon as I arrived I was greeted by a friendly receptionist, asked to take a seat and when she realised the audiologist was running a little late I was offered a cup of tea (which I of course accepted. Hot tea and not kids? Brilliant!)
In fact, my audiologist came pretty much straight out to get me as she had caught up with her appointments and she also greeted me with warmth and a smile. I could immediately tell I was going to like her. I was shown into her room where the hearing test would take place and my cup of tea was soon brought in (important point there).
The Start of The Appointment
Before we began any assessment of my ears, the audiologist, Lydia, took the time to fully explain what the next 90 minutes would entail, what she would be testing for, what the tests will be highlighting (or not) and how at the end we would discuss what treatments, if any, would be needed.
She then proceeded to take down all of my details and spent time getting to know about me, how I believe my hearing is, whether I have had any issues in the past or any concerns right now in order to build a good picture of what’s been going on with me.
I told Lydia that my hearing has always seemed fine but that I have suffered with the need to pop my ears for years now which I think is linked to my tonsillitis issue which I have had to live with for over 12 years now (the NHS refuse to take them out). I have sought advice from GP’s over this time but each and every time I have been told a variety of things including that it must be allergies, it could be from a cold, to take a decongestant, try a nasal spray and so on. No one has ever explained to me why this is happening or what else I could do to try and combat this annoying problem. As soon as I mentioned it to Lydia I could see by her face that she had the answers I’d been looking for but she needed to do all of the hearing tests first to check that there wasn’t an underlying issue there.
The Hearing Tests
The first thing Lydia did was check my ear canals. She looked inside, as any doctor does, to look at the health of my ears and to see if there was any wax build-up. So far all good.
Next up was to check how well my eardrum was working by placing an instrument inside my ear that sends waves down to my eardrum and records the results.
The readings will show how well your eardrum moves in reaction to sound and will indicate whether or not there may be an issue such as glue ear.
Again my results were all normal.
So, on to the first of the hearing tests. I was given a set of headphones to wear and a clicker to hold. Each ear was tested individually by sending a variety of tones down the headphones. These changed in volume, pitch and tone to see whether I had any issues in particular areas. You see, hearing loss is a gradual thing and we can easily think we are ok because we can hear say a tap dripping in another room. However, this may be because we can still pick up that tone, there may be another tone/pitch that we would never realise we couldn’t pick up because we can’t actually hear it but assume because we can hear something else far away that all is well. Hearing loss isn’t as simple as black and white and problems can easily go undetected for years.
In this hearing test, with each tone, I heard I had to click a button to indicate that I could hear it. There were a few variables between each ear but Lydia explained I was at a normal level and if we re-tested an hour later I may have heard some that I hadn’t done previously.
The final hearing test was to listen to words being spoken by a man’s voice. How often do you ask someone to repeat a word or sentence only to carry on missing a part and then because you feel embarrassed you stop asking them to repeat it and instead just nod or smile? Yep, I think we have all done that. So this hearing test is to see whether there are any letters that just seem to fade away from you. The softer the letter the harder it can be to hear them. I did well on this test also but I did miss hear a few of the words. I was given fan but it sounded like san to me and my brain worked out that san wasn’t a word so I changed it to Sam (which I knew was wrong as no other words had been names)– a common thing for somebody to do, especially those who are losing their hearing. Another word was wreath but I heard brief. They weren’t major mistakes and Lydia wasn’t concerned but you can see from this how hearing loss can severely affect somebody’s communication.
If you begin to miss words or can’t quite work out a sentence you can often start to feel excluded from a conversation and may find yourself avoiding certain social situations or events or distancing yourself from the chat around a dinner table. Hearing loss isn’t just about having to turn the TV up a bit louder it can have serious knock-on effects on your everyday life.
To further demonstrate this to me I was then played a series of sentences being said by a man, by a woman and then by a child. Lydia wanted me to fully experience how hearing loss can be and feel. I first heard the man’s sentence as I do normally. She then played it with a slight hearing loss. I was shocked. The sentence sounded as though the man had put a bucket over his head and then had spoken again. It was echoey and distant and I quickly realised that my shoulders had come up and I was leaning in to try and hear it better, which was daft because it was a recording and I knew this, but it just goes to show how we naturally react when we struggle to hear something or someone. She then went on to play the woman’s sentence and because her voice was slightly higher it was far softer and harder to hear with the impairment. For the child’s sentence, she decided to play it to me as if I had hearing loss first just to see if I could tell her what the sentence was. I couldn’t. Children’s voices are that much higher and are quite often more difficult to understand anyway, so to hear it like this I couldn’t tell her one of the words they had said. When she played it to me normally I couldn’t believe how clearly that child had actually spoken. It really opened my eyes to the daily struggles that some people endure.
My results of all of the hearing tests were brought up on the screen in the room so that Lydia could show me where my hearing was at, where a normal hearing level is and where hearing loss occurs.
As you can probably guess my results all came in fine… well, actually most were above normal which didn’t completely surprise me because I have noticed that I can hear far more in the distance than my husband can, but I did wonder if that was just his ability to block certain things out (like me calling him!)
I must say I was relieved I didn’t have hearing issues just yet but then if I did have some I would never have known because my last hearing test must have been at Primary school! The thing is, we aren’t offered these routinely by the NHS and unless we notice something very significant about our hearing, we don’t get ourselves checked. I assumed that if I’d needed a hearing test that I would have had to have gone to my GP and then have to wait for a referral, I had no idea that Leightons were offering a FREE comprehensive test to anyone over 18! A service that is so important.
And My Popping Problem?
My problem is not in any way linked to any hearing issues and as I am not ill at the moment, Lydia explained that my need to pop my ears regularly each day is related to my eustachian tubes sticking. These tubes are what allow fluid to drain away and air to flow through to your eardrum. For whatever reason (maybe the recurring tonsillitis issues which I get more than once a year) my tubes have weakened and now stick. This means that air cannot flow through and I have that overwhelming need to pop them like you may do at the end of a cold or when you go up in a plane. However, there could be a solution and I am so happy about this! You can purchase a product called Otovent which is, in simple terms, a nose balloon! I know, it’s going to be hilarious, isn’t it?! It’s exactly what you imagine. You have a balloon with an attachment and you have to try to blow it up using your nose. These are usually purchased for children who suffer from glue ear BUT adults have been using them to help their ears before they fly. The action helps to strengthen the eustachian tubes and can help with popping issues you may have. I cannot wait to try this over the next few weeks and see if I finally have a remedy for this really annoying problem. Glue is more common in children as their eustachian tube is smaller and more horizontal hence ventilates the middle ear space less efficiently. We know that roughly 8 in 10 children will have glue ear before starting primary school so you can take your child to your GP or a private pediatric audiologist for a hearing assessment if you’re concerned.
What I Learnt About Hearing Loss
So, I have already covered how I felt when I was exposed to what hearing loss sounds but what else can hearing loss effect? Well, did you know that hearing loss and dementia are actually linked? Because we don’t actually hear with our ears, we hear with our brains. The ears receive the sound waves but these are passed up to the primary auditory cortex and the final sounds are processed in the parietal and frontal lobes of the human cerebral cortex. Ok, ok that’s a lot of science to take in but I was shocked by this information and I wanted to pass it on in case you are struggling or know of anybody who is. The thing is, as soon as our brains stop functioning in the way that they should do, they begin to deteriorate. If the auditory cortex is not being used to receive the correct sounds it becomes slightly redundant and as we age, our hearing naturally decreases and this is when further damage to these areas in our brains can occur. Now, I am not saying this to scare anybody, I just felt it was a topic I had never been made aware of and if I could pass this on, then perhaps it will encourage more of us to talk about our hearing, to go for regular check-ups and a hearing test or to ask our older relatives how they hearing is. I must admit that the first thing I did when I got home was call up my Dad to tell him to wear his hearing aids and if they aren’t right, to go and give Lydia a visit because it is vital that he looks after his hearing health.
Overall Thoughts Of The Hearing Test
Going for a hearing test hadn’t ever really entered my mind but I am so pleased I was invited along because I can now have the knowledge that right now my hearing is ok but that I should really go back in a few years time to keep a check on it. Lydia had so much passion for her job and was such an expert in all areas that I felt as though I was in the best hands and no matter what question I asked she had every answer. If all of Leighton’s audiologists are as friendly, bubbly, knowledgable and passionate as her then you should all have a fantastic experience on your visit too.
*This review is in collaboration with Leightons. All opinions remain honest and my own. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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