Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. As an example, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. That means that if you want to understand what’s happening with your hearing, you need to get it tested.
Now, before you begin sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s important to mention that the majority of hearing tests are quite easy and require nothing more taxing than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. You will be more relaxed and more prepared if you take some time to get to know these tests. A hearing test is about the easiest test you’ll ever have to take!
How is a hearing test done?
We frequently talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to get your hearing checked. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about occasionally. You may even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because you may undergo a few different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each one is designed to measure something different or give you a specific result. Here are a few of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re likely most familiar with. You wear some headphones and you listen for a sound. You just raise your right hand if you hear a pitch in your right ear, and if you hear a tone in your left ear you raise your left hand. 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, 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 harder to hear clearly. This test also features a set of headphones in a quiet room. Instead of making you focus on tones, this test will be comprised of audible speech at various volumes to detect the lowest level you can hear a word and still understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in real-time take place in settings where other sounds are present. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is carried out in a noisy setting. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is working will be established by this test. A small sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. How efficiently sound vibrations move through the ear is tracked by this test. If this test determines that sound is moving through your ear effectively it could indicate that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: Sometimes, we’ll want to test the overall health of your eardrum. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. During this test, a small device will gently push air into your ear and measure just how much your eardrum moves. The results of this test can reveal whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear after delivering sound to it. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us discover how well it’s working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test attempts to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on your skull. This test is entirely painless so don’t worry. That’s why people from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to track how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s a blockage, this test will detect it.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
It’s likely, you probably won’t undergo every single one of these hearing tests. We will select one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.
What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, in some cases the tests you take will uncover the underlying cause of your hearing loss. In other circumstances, the test you take might simply eliminate other possible causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are experiencing.
Here are some things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Which frequency of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some people have a hard time hearing high frequencies; others have a tough time hearing low pitches).
- How much your hearing loss has progressed and how severe it is.
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
- The best approach for treating your hearing loss: Once we’ve established the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively offer treatment solutions.
Is there a 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 designed to provide usable information.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as you can
That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test as soon as you observe symptoms. Don’t worry, this test won’t be super stressful, and you don’t need to study. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally painful. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
Which means hearing tests are pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.