Self-diagnosing hearing loss is pretty much impossible. For instance, you can’t actually put your ear next to a speaker and effectively evaluate what you hear. So getting your hearing tested will be essential in understanding what’s going on 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 difficult than wearing a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, no one likes 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. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test performed?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to get a hearing assessment is something that is not that unusual. And we’ve probably used the phrase “hearing test” once or twice. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s slightly misleading. Because you may undergo a few different types of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of these tests will provide you with a particular result and is designed to measure something different. The hearing tests you’re most likely to experience include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are probably familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a pair of headphones. You just raise your right hand if you hear a tone in your right ear, and if you hear a pitch in your left ear you put up your left hand. With this, we can figure out 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 typically more complex! During a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, once again, be directed to don some headphones. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will consist of audible speech at different volumes to detect the lowest level you’re able to hear a word and still understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Needless to say, conversations in real-time happen in settings where there are other sounds. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is carried out in a noisy setting. This mimics real-world situations to help determine how your hearing is working in those situations.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is functioning will be established by this test. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. This test assesses how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. This test can often identify whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there might 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 small device will gently push air into your ear and measure just how much your eardrum moves. The results of this test can indicate whether your eardrum has a hole, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device delivers sound to your ear and observes the muscle feedback of your inner ear. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us identify 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 achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are tactically placed on your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is entirely painless. That’s why everyone 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 properly. This is achieved by measuring sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner 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?
You most likely won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. We will choose one or two tests that best address your symptoms and then go from there.
What are we looking for in a hearing test? A hearing test can sometimes expose the cause of your hearing loss. In other circumstances, the test you take may just rule out other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re experiencing will ultimately be determined.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can uncover:
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some people have a difficult time hearing high wavelengths; others have a hard time hearing low sounds).
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have advanced).
- Which treatment approach will be best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve identified the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively offer treatment options.
What is the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is really superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable information.
The sooner you take this test, the better
So as soon as you observe symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Relax, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. And the tests aren’t unpleasant or invasive. We will provide you with all of the information about what to do and not to do before your hearing test.
Which means hearing tests are pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.