Everything you need to know about hearing loss; signs and symptoms, why you should have your hearing tested and available rebates, funding or compensation. Hearing loss is a common condition that affects an estimated 3.6 million Australians (2017 data).  In Australia, hearing loss is the second most common health condition following musculoskeletal disease. In fact it is more common than asthma, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

The prevalence of hearing loss increases with age and more males (2.2 million) have hearing loss compared to females (1.4 million).  Prevalence is on the rise with estimates that 1 in 4 Australians will have hearing loss by 2050 largely due to an aging population and increasing exposure to dangerous noise levels.

The main causes of hearing loss in the adult population are age and noise exposure. Age related hearing loss is a gradual and irreversible decline in hearing function – called presbyacusis.  It is characterised by a hearing loss in the high pitches.  Noise induced hearing loss is caused by the repeated exposure to loud sounds and is largely preventable.  Noise affects hearing in the mid and high pitches.  At Melbourne Audiology Centre (MAC), we see a large number of people with ‘industrial deafness’.  Industrial deafness is a noise-induced hearing loss caused by repeated exposure to loud noise at work.  We also see people with both age related hearing loss and a history of repeated loud noise exposure resulting in a very significant hearing loss for their age and an increasing number of younger people with noise induced hearing loss related to their lifestyle choices such as listening to very loud music.

When should I have my hearing tested?

Given the high prevalence of hearing loss and that the most common causes of hearing loss are age and noise, we advise that anyone over 50 and anyone who has had significant exposure to loud noise, to have their hearing tested.  However, you should have your hearing tested if you have any concerns or signs of hearing loss.  I have listed the signs and symptom of hearing loss further in this blog.

So now you have decided to have your hearing tested, the next obvious question is, how much is a hearing test (see below in this blog) and can I have a free hearing test as I’ve seen advertised.

Can I have a free hearing test?

At Melbourne Audiology Centre there a couple of ways to have a free hearing test,

  1. If you are a pensioner or veteran, you may be eligible for fully subsidised (free) hearing tests and hearing aids.  Please contact us on 1300 761 021 for more information.  We can advise you on your eligibility and answer your questions
  2. We offer a free quick hearing screening test for anyone over 50 years of age or anyone with significant amounts of exposure to loud noise at work.  During this quick free test, we will check your hearing and determine if you have a hearing loss or not.  If we do identify a hearing loss, we will advise you on the next steps and on whether you are eligible for any rebates, funding for the hearing test or if you can lodge workers compensation claim.  Quite often, the audiologist will recommend you have a comprehensive hearing test.  Please read more on what happens in a comprehensive hearing test and why you need to book one further in this blog.  We also discuss the prices if you are self-funded.

Quick questionnaire to check if you might have hearing loss

There are a number of signs and symptoms of hearing loss.  It is important to have a hearing test if you have any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • your hearing is muffled,
  • your ears feel blocked,
  • you’re frequently asking others to repeat themselves,
  • you turn up the volume of the TV higher than others,
  • you think others mumble,
  • you have difficulty understanding speech on the phone,
  • you find it difficult understanding words in conversation, particularly when in background noise such as at restaurants and family gatherings,
  • you have difficulty attending to a conversation,
  • you frequently have trouble following the conversation when in a group and the conversation quickly moves from one person to the next, e.g., in meeting or at the dinner table,
  • you don’t participate in activities that you have trouble hearing at and you isolate yourself
  • you speak too loudly or too softly,
  • you have been exposed to loud noise at work or leisure activities,
  • you experience ear infections or blocked feeling in one or both ears,
  • you take certain medication such as strong antibiotics or chemotherapy.

There is significant amount of scientific evidence that treating hearing loss as early as possible has many benefits. Please call us on 1300 761 021 or book and appointment online

When should I have my hearing tested?

People over the age of 50 should have a hearing test every 3 years or sooner if they notice any changes in their hearing or have any of the signs or symptoms listed above. Untreated hearing loss may lead to:

  • feelings of anxiety, social isolation, embarrassment and even depression
  • communication difficulties at work with your colleagues, clients or the public.  Which in turn can lead to under-employment, unemployment and loss of income
  • auditory deprivation which results in a loss of understanding of speech over time

Untreated hearing loss is linked to dementia. Research shows that people with a mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia, as compared to those with normal hearing. Treating hearing loss with well-fitted hearing aids enables more social engagement and participation that in turn reduces the rate of cognitive decline and dementia. At Melbourne Audiology Centre, all of our audiologists use an evidence-based approach to select the best hearing aid solutions for our clients so that they can obtain optimal hearing and communication outcomes. The latest hearing aids include; convenient rechargeable battery models, tiny invisible-in-the-canal styles, Bluetooth hearing aids that connect to mobile phones wirelessly and hearing aids that can detect falls, measure your mind and body health. We know about all the latest advances in hearing aids and can help you find the best hearing aid solution for your needs and budget.

If you have any concerns about your hearing, please schedule an appointment for a hearing test at any of our hearing clinic locations: Melbourne CBD, Fitzroy, Sunshine, Werribee, Taylors Lakes, Thomastown, Templestowe, Dandenong, and Bentleigh.  Please call us on 1300 761 021 or book and appointment online

How is my hearing tested?

One of our qualified hearing healthcare professionals will test your hearing.  At Melbourne Audiology Centre, we conduct the hearing test in a soundproof booth or in a noise treated quiet room depending on the location of the clinic.  At all of our clinic locations the testing is done under conditions that meet the relevant Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1269.4:2014; Maximum acceptable background noise levels) for hearing tests.  The testing is also done with audiometric equipment that is calibrated to the required standards. It is important that all testing is done meeting both ambient noise and equipment calibration standards so; the hearing test is accurate; the hearing can be accurately monitored over time; the hearing test can be compared with one done elsewhere and the test meets the professional and ethical requirements for an audiology professional.
You can be confident that you will have an accurate hearing test at MAC.  Our comprehensive hearing test takes 1hour and includes:

  • your hearing history  and medical history so we can better understand any medical issues that could be affecting your hearing
  • your current hearing and communication ability and the difficulties you may be experiencing
  • otoscopic examination of your outer ear, ear canal and eardrum, that provides information about the physical status of the ear canal and eardrum.  Abnormal findings include; wax occlusion, foreign objects, infections, discharge from the middle ear, and perforation of the eardrum
  • pure-tone audiometry (hearing test) which consists of air conduction testing and bone conduction testing.  We use headphone or earphones to perform the air conduction testing and a small device that sits behind your ear for the bone conduction testing.  The tests are not painful or uncomfortable.  For both tests, you will hear a series of beeps and you need to indicate when you hear the beeps in each ear.  The beeps will be at various levels of loudness and at different pitches.  The audiologist will plot the softest sound you hear on a graph called an Audiogram. The Audiogram enables the audiologist to diagnose the type and degree of hearing loss.  There are three types of hearing loss, conductive, sensorineural (sometimes called ‘nerve deafness’ and mixed hearing loss.  Your audiologist will classify the degree of hearing loss as mild, moderate, severe or profound and describe according to which pitch/s are affected, for example, the hearing loss may be ‘a moderate, high pitch, sensorineural hearing loss.’  Your audiologist will explain your hearing loss to you in detail.  Some people want to know the percentage of hearing loss.  Your audiologist will calculate percentage of hearing loss only if you want to lodge a workers compensation claim for hearing loss.  Percentage hearing loss is used to determine the amount and type of workers compensation you may receive for a claim.  Percentage hearing loss it is not the normal way an audiologist will describe a hearing loss.
  • speech audiometry, a test that measures your ability to hear and understand speech presented at various levels.  You will wear headphones or earphones for this test.  Your audiologist will ask you to repeat a series of words played to you at various volumes.  The words may become quite soft and it is important to guess the word if you do not hear it properly.  The audiologist will compare the results of this test with the results from pure-tone audiometry in order to build a more comprehensive picture of what is happening with your hearing
  • tympanometry and acoustic reflexes testing that provides a measure of middle ear status, eardrum movement and more.  The middle ear is an air-filled cavity behind the eardrum that contains the smallest bones in the body- the malleus, incus and stapes.  The bones form the ‘ossicular chain’ that transmits sound from the eardrum to the cochlear or hearing organ via sound vibrations.  Tympanometry can identify certain middle ear conditions such as perforation of the eardrum, the presence of middle ear fluid, Eustachian tube dysfunction or conditions of the ossicular chain such as otosclerosis or ossicular chain discontinuation.  We also may conduct acoustic reflex testing which provides additional information about the middle ear and inner ear, the auditory and facial nerves and the brainstem.  Tympanometry and acoustic reflex testing are used to confirm the type of hearing loss you have i.e., conductive, sensorineural or mixed
  • a review by your audiologist of all your test results alongside other information such as your hearing and medical history  in order to make an accurate diagnosis of the type of hearing loss and whether it is linked with any medical conditions.  Your audiologist will explain the results to you and answer your questions
  • recommendations and a discussion about the next steps depending on what the results show.  If you have a hearing loss, your audiologist will discuss treatment options, which may range from communication strategies, hearing aids and other assistive devices to a referral to your GP or a medical specialist if warranted
  • management of your hearing loss by your audiologist, age or noise related hearing loss is a permanent hearing loss that your audiologist can treat non-medically using hearing aids and devices.  The audiologist will conduct a communication and hearing needs assessment to identify specific situations in which you would like to hear and communicate better.  They will ask you about your preferences regarding the look and feel of the hearing aid and they will talk to you about funding options and prices.  In Australia, the Federal governments ‘Hearing services program’ provides fully subsidised hearing tests and hearing aids to eligible pensioners, veterans and other clients
  • a report to your managing GP if the GP has referred you to us or if you request that we do so.

What is the price of a hearing test?

Self-funded clients, the price for the 1hr comprehensive hearing assessment is $175. Medicare rebates of up to approx. $59 are available with a GP referral to Melbourne Audiology Centre at most of our locations,

Pensioners and veterans may be eligible for free hearing assessments and fully and partially subsidised hearing aid/s under the Government’s Hearing Services Program (formerly OHS). Contact us on 1300 761 021 for more information.

How do I book a hearing test?

If you have any concerns about your hearing, please schedule an appointment for a hearing test at any of our hearing clinic locations: Melbourne CBD, Fitzroy, Sunshine, Werribee, Taylors Lakes, Thomastown, Templestowe, Dandenong, and Bentleigh.

Call 1300 761 021 or on make an online appointment booking enquiry here.

Appointment Booking Enquiry