This is a paid collaboration post with Leightons Opticians and Hearing Specialists but all opinions are my own.

As a woman grasping desperately to my twenties (but also counting down the days until my 30th birthday…it’s a confusing time, OK?), I hadn’t really given much thought to my hearing. I know that I struggle a little bit with chaotic noises e.g. if I’m in a loud environment trying to hold a conversation, but who doesn’t?

More than one noise source can also trigger feelings of anxiousness and I can get quite snappy if things are too loud for me to process my surroundings. But again, I don’t think that’s uncommon.

So when I received an email from the agency representing Leightons inviting me to have a free hearing assessment, I was curious to find out just how good (or bad) my hearing was, and to find out more about how hearing loss impacts people.

Did you know you can get free hearing tests? Before the opportunity, I genuinely had no idea.

They are well worth doing as it’s just 90 minutes of your time, and they can help you spot any deterioration of hearing over time – most of which is totally natural and comes with age, but the audiologist may also pinpoint any issues with your hearing. The sooner they are spotted, the easier they are to work with!

My hearing history

When arriving at Leightons I was admittedly a bit nervous – there was no need though as the audiologist Lydia was without a doubt one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. She took me through to a small consultation room, introduced herself and what the hearing test and assessment would involve and then we went into my “hearing history”.

She asked me if I felt I had any specific issues with hearing, and the conversation soon turned to my history with balance. I was diagnosed with vestibular migraines a while back, and Lydia was actually working at the hospital where I was diagnosed all that time ago! Small world, right?

Lydia had loads of genuinely interesting information about balance, and as we discussed my experience with vertigo, she gave me some really good advice about managing it and also a potential different diagnosis! It was really insightful as what she was explaining completely matched with my experience.

Although this discussion was not around hearing specifically, balance is so intrinsically linked to the ear and the “imbalance” I have. Lydia also later explained to me that our ability to hear things impacts our cognitive function significantly as we get older – at the end of the assessment she showed me some truly shocking data around how hearing loss and dementia are linked, too.

After discussing my own perceived experiences with my hearing and all things “ears”, she had a quick check of my ear canal to make sure it was all clear, as well as checking the inner ear. All clean and healthy!

The hearing tests

Next, it was time for the tests – when you hear “test” it’s a natural reaction to panic, but these tests are not something to worry about at all! I first did a test where I had to click a button when I heard a beep – the beeps were at different pitches and volumes.

The second and final tests were about how you hear speech. The former required me to repeat the words I heard – this gradually got more difficult as the voice got quieter but it helps to detect which “sounds” from words you struggle with at lower volume. The latter was about determining and repeating sentences back as the background noise got louder and louder. I knew I’d struggle with that, but Lydia told me that most people do!

The results

After all of the tests, Lydia showed me a “map” of my hearing and explained what it means. My hearing was in the normal range and the “map” even showed how well I can hear specific letters or sounds. It was obviously a relief to know that my hearing was good and that when Liam mumbles when he talks that it’s not me, it’s him! But I now can’t really use the excuse that I can’t hear him when I’m too busy scrolling through Insta…

All about hearing loss

As my results showed no issues with hearing loss, Lydia wanted me to get a good understanding of what it’s like to live with hearing loss and show me the hearing aid technology that exists to support those who do have issues with their hearing.

Using the speakers that were placed on the wall behind me, and another in front of me, Lydia played some clips of people talking. The first play was how someone with no hearing loss would hear it, then a few plays at different levels of hearing loss. It was really eye-opening to get an idea of how things sound to those with hearing loss, and definitely hit home how important it is to be aware of that impact on those around you who may have issues with hearing.

When Lydia took out this small plastic box filled with a few different hearing aid devices, I was blown away by just how small and discreet they are! When you see people in films with hearing impairments, the devices they wear are often the clunkier plastic looking ones – some that I saw were even smaller than my Bluetooth earphones!

Overall, I found the free hearing assessment at Leightons to be ridiculously interesting and insightful, and it really highlighted the importance of keeping tabs on your hearing! You can find out more about hearing care at Leightons by visiting their website.