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Hearing checks and hearing aids

A hearing test checks your ability to hear the loudness and pitch of sounds. A variety of tests are used by the audiologist to evaluate your hearing levels.  The test used depends on your age and the type of hearing loss.

Early signs of hearing loss

Some early warning signs of hearing loss in adults are:

  • having a ringing sensation in your ears (tinnitus)
  • finding it hard to hear conversations
  • asking people to repeat what they say
  • having trouble hearing the doorbell or the phone
  • needing to turn the television volume up louder than other people

Some early warning signs for children:

  • speech and language delay
  • do not respond to his/her name consistently
  • speaking with a loud voice
  • a lack of attention to sounds and what is being said
  • a history of ear infections
  • does not startle to loud sounds

Types of hearing loss

The hearing pathway can be divided into 3 general sections of hearing:

  1. The outer ear
  2. the middle ear and
  3. the inner ear

There are 3 types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss—caused by a blockage in, or damage to, the outer or middle ear. For example:
    • middle ear infections
    • a damaged ear drum
    • impacted ear wax
    • structural problems with the outer or middle ear
  • Sensorineural hearing loss—caused by damage to the hair cells or structural problems in the inner ear. For example:
    • exposure to loud noise
    • diseases, such as meningitis
    • infections
    • inherited hearing loss
    • drugs/medication
    • head injuries
    • disease, trauma or sickness during pregnancy and/or birth
    • ageing
  • Mixed hearing loss—a problem in both the outer/middle ear and the inner ear. For example, a conductive hearing loss due to a middle-ear infection combined with a sensorineural hearing loss due to damage associated with ageing

Severity of hearing loss

Hearing loss is measured in decibels (dB)—our conversational speech is around 65dB.

The degrees of hearing loss include:

  • mild (21–45dB)—some difficulty hearing soft sounds and soft speech in conversation
  • moderate (46–60dB)—hard to hear conversational speech, especially if there is background noise (such as a television or radio)
  • moderately severe (61–75dB)—very difficult to hear ordinary conversation
  • severe (76–90dB)—cannot hear conversational speech
  • profound (91dB)—almost all sounds are inaudible

Hearing programs

Queensland Healthy Hearing Program

The Queensland Healthy Hearing Program, offers free newborn hearing screening to all babies born in Queensland birthing hospitals (public and private).

Australian Government Hearing Services Program

The Australian Government Hearing Services Program helps eligible people with the cost of hearing services, assessments and devices.

Under this program, accredited hearing service providers may claim payments for providing hearing products and services to eligible people who have an Office of Hearing Services voucher.

Medicare manages the claim payment system.
Service providers can claim:

  • hearing assessments
  • hearing devices, including fitting a device
  • the government contribution for the maintenance and repair of hearing devices

The Australian Government Hearing Services Program also provides comprehensive help to children who have a permanent or long-term hearing loss. To be eligible for this service, children must be under 26 years of age and be an Australian Citizen or permanent resident.

More information

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
2 November 2016
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