Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. As an example, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by merely putting your ear next to a speaker. So getting a hearing test will be vital in figuring out what’s happening with your hearing.
Now, before you start sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s important to point out that the majority of hearing tests are rather easy and involve nothing more challenging than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Whether you’re a high school student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are just generally no fun. You will be more relaxed and more ready if you take some time to get to know these tests. A hearing test is probably the simplest test you’ll ever have to take!
How is a hearing test done?
We often talk about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your ears assessed. 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 somewhat misleading. Because it turns out there are a few different hearing tests you may undergo. Each of these tests will provide you with a specific result and is created to measure something different. Here are a few of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are probably familiar with this hearing test. You put on 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 determine which wavelengths and volumes of sound you can hear. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: In some cases, you’re able to hear tones really well, but hearing speech remains somewhat of a challenge. That’s because speech is generally more complex! When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, once again, be directed to put on some headphones. Instead of making you focus on tones, this test will consist of audible speech at different volumes to detect the lowest level you can hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Needless to say, conversations in real-time happen in settings where other sounds are present. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is performed in a noisy setting. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the function of your inner ear. A small sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. This test tracks how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. This test can often detect whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there might be some kind of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Sometimes, we’ll want to test the general health of your eardrum. This is done using a test called tympanometry. Air will be gently blown into your ear in order to measure how much movement your eardrum has. The results of this test can identify whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and measures 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 functioning.
- 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 putting a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. This test is completely painless so don’t worry. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on everyone from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is designed to determine how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. This is accomplished by tracking sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s a blockage, this test will detect it.
What do the results of hearing tests tell us?
Chances are, you probably won’t undergo every single one of these hearing tests. We will pick one or two tests that best address your symptoms and then go from there.
What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will expose the root cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other cases, simply help us rule out other causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
Here are some things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Which treatment approach will be best for your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some people have a hard time hearing high wavelengths; other people have a difficult time hearing low sounds).
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how significant it is.
Is there any difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt example. A screening is very superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable information.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as possible
So as soon as you detect symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be super stressful, and you don’t have to study. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally unpleasant. We will provide you with 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.