Knowing your Hearing Number is a step toward taking control of your hearing health now and throughout your life. Knowing your Hearing Number will help you:
- Better understand your own hearing with a number that you can monitor over time.
- Know when to start using communication strategies or hearing technologies that will improve your hearing and overall quality of life.
- Feel empowered and more comfortable talking about your hearing with loved ones and health care professionals.
- Value your hearing as an important part of your overall health.
The PTA4 is universal and accessible. There are many hearing measures that give us nuanced information about how people hear speech. But other measures depend on language, and any hearing measure that depends on language is not universal. The PTA4 is used by hearing specialists all over the world, so no matter where your hearing is tested, your PTA4 is the same. A universal metric for hearing that can be accessed easily can help you understand your hearing and give you the vocabulary to talk about it.
At this time, you can only use the Mimi and SonicCloud apps on an Apple phone or tablet to learn your Hearing Number. This is because these apps were originally developed for Apple hardware, which is more standardized than the different hardware platforms that use Android. There are ongoing efforts to make apps that can measure your Hearing Number available on Android devices. You can also see a hearing care professional, such as an audiologist, to get your hearing tested. Ask them for your PTA4, which is your Hearing Number.
There is no perfect score. The closer to 0 your Hearing Number is, the softer the sounds you can hear. Everyone’s Hearing Number changes over time, as part of the natural changes to the inner ear that we all experience along our hearing health journey.
Assessing hearing regularly can help you be aware of any changes to your hearing and know when to take action. This could include adopting simple strategies like using noise protection to preserve your hearing, adopting communication techniques, or using everyday technologies like personalizing smartphone outputs to meet your hearing needs.
It can be surprising if your Hearing Number is higher than you expected. Knowing your Hearing Number gives you a reference point to show how much change happens over time, compared to just being told that you have mild or moderate hearing loss.
The Hearing Number is not a diagnostic tool. Hearing care professionals, such as audiologists, ENTs/otolaryngologists, and hearing aid specialists can provide full assessments of hearing. Talk to your doctor if your right and left ear Hearing Numbers are different by more than 10 or if you have had any persistent ear pain, dizziness, ear drainage, or sudden or fluctuating hearing loss.
The Hearing Number cannot be lowered. Age-related hearing loss is defined by the fundamental changes that occur in the inner ear. No hearing technology, including hearing aids and over-the-counter devices, can undo those changes. However, the Hearing Number can clue you into the strategies and hearing technologies you can use to improve your communication with others.
One of the most important things you can do to protect your hearing is to avoid exposure to loud noises. If you can’t move away from loud noises, ear protection (such as earplugs or noise protection earmuffs) can help. There are also ways to reduce noise exposure from headphones, like adjusting the settings of the headphones to automatically keep the volume at a safe level, using over-the-ear headphones rather than in-the-ear earbuds, and limiting the use of headphones to no more than 60 minutes at a time.