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Annual physicals are a must to maintain good health, yet most males feel doctors are low on their priority list, and that is the case for me. And what of ear doctor visits? Rarer still. The first time I had my hearing checked was at age 20 and the test was performed by the Army. In those days we had the draft and all males had to report for their physicals within one year of turning eighteen. I lived in Anaheim California and traveled by Greyhound bus to the Los Angeles Induction Center for my physical, two months after my birthday. I stood in line with fifty other teenagers as we were poked, prodded and violated by the Army medical core. I was hardly alone in my fear of being drafted to spend the next two years of my life in Vietnam. Each of us were seated on cold metal stools placed against isolated grey cubicles with dingy acoustic tiles lining their walls. Before us was a set of hard plastic headphones, a button, and a light. The instructions were simple: when the light illuminated it would be accompanied by a sound. If you could hear the frequency, you pressed the button. I decided to never press the button and sat through the twenty or so tones without pressing it once. When we received our test scores I noted with dismay I had passed the hearing test with flying colors. The Army needed many men to fight their war and apparently I was to be among them. Since that first hearing test it would be another thirty years before I took it again; this time I was actually interested in the results. My hearing, at age fifty was decent: relatively flat, rolled off beginning at 15kHz. The next time I visited the doctor was ten years later when my high frequency hearing had nearly vanished and I was afraid it was over for me in audio design. It turned out to be nothing more than wax, a phenomena I was told gets worse in proportion to the increased ear hair that traps it. Getting old has all sorts of surprises for each of us. Now I go once a year. For those of you not wishing to spend the time or money to visit your local audiologist there is a simple test I recommend. It's what I use at least once a week, sometimes more often. The test helps determine the balance of high frequencies of your ears. It works because wax or hearing problems rarely are the same from left to right ear. And if yours are working properly there should be no difference in high frequency response between the two. Making sure your hands are dry, rub the first two fingers of each hand (index and middle) between your thumb, placing them within half an inch of your your ear. Take a look at this photo. P3030002 Try it. If your fingers are dry, the high frequency content is quite apparent and it should sound crisp with plenty of highs. It's quick, portable and free.
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Paul McGowan

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