Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. To illustrate, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by merely putting your ear near a speaker. So getting a hearing test will be crucial in understanding what’s going on with your hearing.
But there’s no need to worry or stress because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.
Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests are generally no fun for anybody of any age. Taking some time to become familiar with these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more relaxed. A hearing test is probably the simplest test you’ll ever have to take!
How is a hearing test done?
Talking about making an appointment to have a hearing test is something that isn’t that unusual. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably discussed occasionally. You may even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s a bit misleading. Because as it happens, there are a few different hearing tests you might undergo. Each of them is designed to measure something different or give you a specific result. Here are a few of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re probably most familiar with. You listen for a sound on a set of headphones. You simply put up your right hand if you hear a tone in your right ear, and if you hear a tone in your left ear you raise your left hand. This will test how well you hear a variety of frequencies at a variety of volumes. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
- Speech audiometry: In some cases, hearing speech is a challenge for you even though you can hear tones clearly. Speech is generally a more complex audio spectrum so it can be more difficult to hear with clarity. This test also is comprised of a set of headphones in a quiet room. You will listen to speech at different volumes to determine the lowest volume you can hear words and clearly understand them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in the real world occur in settings where other sounds are present. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same process as speech audiometry, but the test occurs in a noisy room rather than a quiet one. This mimics real-world situations to help figure out how your hearing is working in those settings.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the performance of your inner ear. A small sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. How effectively sound vibrations move through the ear is tracked by this test. This test can usually detect whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working fine there may be some kind of obstruction hindering the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. Tympanometry is a test that is used for this purpose. During this test, a little device will gently push air into your ear and measure exactly how much your eardrum moves. If you have fluid behind your eardrum, or a hole in your eardrum, this is the test that will identify that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us determine how well it’s working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to respond to sound is measured by an ABR test. To accomplish this test, a couple of electrodes are tactically placed on your skull. This test is completely painless so don’t worry. That’s why everyone from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to measure how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. It does this by tracking the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. If your cochlea isn’t working properly or there’s an obstruction, this test will reveal it.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
Chances are, you probably won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Generally, your specific symptoms will determine which of these tests will be appropriate.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes expose the cause of your hearing loss. In other situations, the test you take may simply rule out other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re noticing will ultimately be determined.
Generally, your hearing test will reveal:
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
- The best approach for treating your hearing loss: Once we’ve established what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully provide treatment options.
- How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have progressed).
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
Is there a difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? It’s sort of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is rather superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable information.
The sooner you get tested, the better
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test won’t be super stressful, and you don’t need to study. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally unpleasant. We will give you all of the information about what to do and not to do before your hearing test.
Which means hearing tests are quite easy, all you need to do is schedule them.