Self-diagnosing hearing loss is virtually impossible. To illustrate, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. Which means that if you want to know what’s happening with your hearing, you have to take a test.
Now, before you begin sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s important to mention that most hearing tests are quite easy and involve nothing more taxing than wearing a pair of fancy headphones.
Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests in general are no fun for anybody of any age. You will be more comfortable and more prepared if you take some time to get to know these tests. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test performed?
We often talk about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your ears assessed. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two types of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because you might undergo a few different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of them is made to assess something different or provide you with a specific result. Here are a few of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a pair of headphones. Hear a tone in your right ear? Raise your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! This will test your ability to 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, you’re able to hear tones really well, but hearing speech remains somewhat challenging. Speech is generally a more complex audio range so it can be more difficult to hear with clarity. During a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, again, be instructed to don some headphones. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will consist of audible speech at various volumes to detect the lowest level you’re able to hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations almost never occur in a vacuum. 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: This diagnostic is designed to measure the performance of your inner ear. A small sensor is placed near 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. This test can usually identify whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working fine there could be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to test the overall health of your eardrum. This is done using a test called tympanometry. Air will be gently blown into your ear so that we can measure how much movement your eardrum has. The results of this test can indicate whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle response of your inner ear after delivering sound to it. It all happens by reflex, which means that the movements of your muscles can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is achieved by placing a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is totally painless. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on people from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is designed to determine 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. This can detect whether your cochlea is working or, in some situations, if your ear is blocked.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
It’s likely, you usually won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. We will pick one or two tests that best address your symptoms and then go from there.
When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes uncover the cause of your hearing loss. In other situations, the test you take may simply eliminate other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re dealing with will ultimately be determined.
Generally, your hearing test will reveal:
- How much your hearing loss has progressed and how serious it is.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
- The best strategy for managing your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to address your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
- Whether you are dealing with hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
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 very superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can supply usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as you can
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Take it easy, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. 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 have all of that information for you.
It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.