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Be Well Podcast: Better speech and hearing with Hannah Carlson, AuD

Starting in December 2023, ear, nose and throat (ENT) patients will be treated at the new Skagit Regional Health – Mount Vernon Surgery Center, located just north of Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon, WA. 

Hannah Carlson, AuD headshot

Listen in to the full podcast or read from partial transcript below as Hannah Carlson, AuD, Audiologist at Skagit Regional Health discusses different ways that we can help our hearing stay as healthy as possible.

Deborah Howell (Host): As the years go by, many of us notice that we're not hearing as well as we used to. So today, we're putting the focus on how to keep our hearing as healthy as possible. I'm joined today by Dr. Hannah Carlson, an audiologist at Skagit Regional Health. She's here today to talk with us about audiology and healthy hearing care.

This is Be Well, the podcast from Skagit Regional Health. I'm Deborah Howell. Hannah, what a pleasure to have you on with us today.

Hannah Carlson: Yes. Thank you. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Deborah Howell (Host): I'm looking forward to this one. So let's jump right in. What exactly is an audiologist?

Hannah Carlson: Yeah. So audiologists, we are primary healthcare professionals and we evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage hearing loss and balance disorders - for all ages, from infants to teens and even adults and the elderly.

Deborah Howell (Host): Sounds like a full plate.

Hannah Carlson: Yes.

Deborah Howell (Host): You know, our hearing is something we kind of take for granted, but how often should we have our hearing tested?

Hannah Carlson: Yeah, that's a great question. I always say it's always good to have a baseline hearing test at the age between 40 and 50 years old. It's a good time. So then once we detect a hearing loss, we like to retest it every two to three years. But if we don't see anything at that time at that baseline hearing test, we usually say, you know, once a year or every other year.

Deborah Howell (Host): Wow. A lot of people, including me, are not doing that. So I'm glad that you indicated that we should be doing that. What really happens when you go get your hearing tested?

Hannah Carlson: Yeah. So we bring you into what we call an audio booth, which is a soundproof room. And we always ask you first case history questions just by bringing the person in. And then of course, we look in the ears with our otoscope, which is our tool that we're able to look into the ear. And then from there, we do a test that checks the pressure behind the eardrum. And then from there, most people recognize the test, but we give them a button. You press the button when you hear the beeps. We test one ear at a time. And then, we do also some speech testing as well. In the end, we go over the results with them and we refer them if they need any other medical look-over based off of their hearing loss or we recommend them if they need hearing aids.

Deborah Howell (Host): Okay. And tell us a little bit more about the speech testing.

Hannah Carlson: Yeah. So speech testing is really important. We hear with our ears, but we also hear with the brain. The brain is the one that actually takes the sound and processes it. So when we test the speech, we're finding is there a link between when you hear the beeps versus hearing words without context. So we're testing more of the processing part of our auditory system and seeing how well and if you're a true candidate for hearing aids.

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