Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. To illustrate, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be crucial in figuring out what’s happening with your hearing.
Now, before you begin sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s important to mention that the majority of hearing tests are quite easy and involve nothing more challenging than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. Whether you’re a high school student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. Taking a little time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more relaxed. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test performed?
Talking about making an appointment to have a hearing test is something that is not that uncommon. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. You might even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because as it happens, there are a number of different hearing tests you may undergo. Each one is made to measure something different or give you a specific result. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re likely most aware of. You listen for a sound on a pair of headphones. Hear a tone in your right ear? Raise your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can figure out which frequencies and volumes of sound you can hear. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, you can hear tones really well, but hearing speech is still something challenging. Speech is typically a more complex audio spectrum so it can be harder to hear clearly. This test also features a pair 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 comprehend them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in real-time happen 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 takes place in a noisy room instead of 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. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. How efficiently sound vibrations move through the ear is measured by this test. This test can usually identify whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working fine there could be some sort of obstruction hindering the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The overall health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. Tympanometry is a test that is used for this purpose. Air will be gently blown into your ear so that we can measure how much movement your eardrum has. If you have fluid behind your eardrum, or a hole in your eardrum, this is the test that will detect that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device delivers sound to your ear and observes the muscle response of your inner ear. It all happens by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can tell us a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. This is achieved by placing a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is entirely painless. That’s why people from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This kind of testing will help identify if your inner ear and cochlea are working effectively. It does this by tracking the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can detect whether your cochlea is working or, in some situations, if your ear is blocked.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
You most likely won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. Generally, your specific symptoms will determine which of these tests will be relevant.
When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? Well, sometimes the tests you take will reveal the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other instances, simply help us rule out other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re dealing with will ultimately be determined.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
- Which treatment strategy is best for your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to address your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have progressed).
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
Is there any difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is very superficial. A test is made to provide usable information.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as possible
That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test when you first notice symptoms. Relax, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests invasive or generally unpleasant. We will give you all of the information about what to do and not to do before your hearing test.
It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.