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Can You Pass A Hearing Test but Still Have Problems Hearing?

a patient being administered a hearing test

The thing about hearing loss is that it can affect anyone regardless of their age or gender. Even children can encounter hearing loss. People typically experience hearing loss because of trauma, their occupation, the aging process or even their genetic makeup.

Hearing loss may not matter to some individuals. But some people feel it has an impact on their daily lives and quality of life. A lot of those individuals experiencing hearing loss will typically see their doctor and get referred for a hearing test with an audiologist. However, did you know that some people could technically pass a hearing test while still experiencing some hearing loss?

How your hearing loss could mean you pass a hearing test

The reality of hearing loss is that some people that experience it may pass a hearing test even though they might not hear low noises. As you know, your ears enable you to process sounds at different levels or pitches, and they convert those sounds to information that gets sent to your brain.

In an individual with good hearing, they have excellent hearing clarity. They can hear sounds from people whispering and talking at normal levels through to noises at high decibels such as police car sirens and fireworks.

When you go for a hearing test, the audiologist will play sounds at different frequencies. If you have trouble processing sounds at lower decibels, for instance, you are experiencing some hearing loss. But that doesn’t mean you won’t pass a hearing test if you can correctly interpret sounds at other decibels.

Why some hearing loss could go unrecognized

Patients that have a hearing test performed by an audiologist may not realize it, but they could be experiencing a hidden type of hearing loss. It’s seldom easy to diagnose such forms of hearing loss in a quiet examination room using audiograms. That’s why those patients could ultimately end up passing a hearing test even though they experience hearing loss.

Scientific research into hearing loss has shown that some forms can go undetected during a hearing test. The problem isn’t down to how an audiologist tests for hearing loss. Instead, it’s to do with the complicated relationship between people’s ears and their brains.

According to the findings of the scientific research, each person’s central auditory system compensates for damage to their inner ear. It does so by increasing its internal volume control, helping to overcome the hearing deficiency temporarily.

You may not know it, but each ear contains three significant areas, the outer, middle and inner ears. The inner ear is responsible for transferring sound waves or vibrations transmitted between the outer and middle ears to your brain by converting them into electrical signals. As you can imagine, if there’s damage to one of your inner ears, those signals can’t get transmitted efficiently or correctly.

What happens when there’s damage to an inner ear?

Damage to an inner can be the result of several things. In people with otherwise normal hearing, it can just be down to the aging process. Another typical cause is constant exposure to loud noises or sounds. For example, listening to music at high volumes for long periods or working with machines and not wearing appropriate ear protection, such as ear defenders.

In each of your ears, the inner ears contain tiny hairs or nerve cells responsible for transmitting sounds to your brain as electrical signals. Wear and tear on the cochlea will cause hearing loss that’s sometimes hard to detect with a hearing test.

If your inner ears get damaged, your brain might interpret high-pitched sounds as muffled noises. In the quiet room where you’d have your hearing test, your central auditory system will try to improve the quality of high-pitched sounds. You might pass a hearing test because of that. But, if you were to listen out for those same sounds in a place with background noise, you’d end up listening to muffled sounds.

What to do if you’re experiencing hearing loss

Do you feel that you can sometimes hear sounds of a particular pitch in quiet rooms? And are you finding those sounds undistinguishable in places with noisy backgrounds? If the answer to both questions is yes, it makes sense to have your hearing checked by a qualified audiologist.

At the Physicians Hearing Center, we are fully equipped to handle all your auditory healthcare needs. To find out more about how we can help you or to schedule an appointment, contact us today at 334-673-7399.