This is a great question, one that we often encounter in our clinic. A hearing screening or puretone audiogram alone doesn't give us enough information to work with. A complete hearing health history and further diagnostic measures are warranted to give us a more complete picture. There is also interesting research looking into cochlear synaptopathy or hidden hearing loss that better explains how our patients have normal audiograms but diffuse complaints regarding their hearing. Here are some links to research articles that explain this in greater detail -
As others have said, a hearing screening usually isn't very comprehensive and cannot detect issues such as auditory neuropathy or central auditory processing disorder. A screening is generally only a pass / fail test at 4-6 puretones and just takes a few minutes, whereas a comprehensive hearing evaluation involves a broader range of frequencies (8 - 12), speech reception thresholds, word recognition testing at conversational speech level and at your most comfortable listening level, speech-in-noise testing, uncomfortable listening level, and bone conduction testing. Diagnostic tests for tympanometry, acoustic reflex thresholds, threshold decay testing, otoacoustic emissions testing, and brainstem response testing are additional tests that can be completed for patients showing additional symptoms. An entire test battery along these lines can take 30 - 60 minutes and would need to be administered by a licensed audiologist.In addition, research (as cited by others in this thread) does suggest the possibility of "Hidden Hearing Loss", where someone shows no clear signs of hearing loss but perceives it to be the case. In these cases, trial amplification with hearing aids can prove beneficial, but only on a trial bases to determine potential benefit and should not be a "go-to" solution. In most cases, trial amplification for someone who has effectively normal hearing usually does not measure up to the cost/benefit ratio.
Absolutely. It depends on the criteria of pass/fail for the clinician that you saw. Also, there is no such thing as "normal" hearing - we have a range of hearing that we consider to be optimal and often say someone's hearing is "within normal limits" or "within the normal range." Someone could come in for a test and be at the lower end of normal and we would then say that they are within the normal range - if this person used to be at the top end of normal then that would be a HUGE drop in their hearing and they would likely feel like their hearing has changed. If your brain had be accustomed to having really good hearing, then a drop in hearing (even still being within the normal range) can cause you to struggle more than you used to. This is why it is so important to have a baseline test of your hearing so we have something to gauge later on to see if your hearing did change. I would recommend you have a full diagnostic evaluation completed to get a complete picture of your hearing.
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