Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. For example, you can’t really put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively measure what you hear. That means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you have to get it tested.
But there’s no need to worry or stress out because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech set of 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 comfortable and more ready 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 performed?
Talking about making an appointment to have a hearing test is something that is not that unusual. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” once or twice. Maybe, you’ve heard that there are two types of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they’re all about.
Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Because as it happens, there are a number of different hearing tests you might undergo. Each one is made to measure something different or give you a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re probably most familiar with. You listen for a tone on a set of headphones. Hear a pitch 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 wavelengths at a variety of volumes. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, you’re able to hear tones very well, but hearing speech is still somewhat of a challenge. Speech is typically a more complex audio range so it can be harder to hear with clarity. This test also is comprised of a set of headphones in a quiet room. Instead of making you focus on tones, this test will consist of audible speech at different volumes to identify the lowest level you’re able to hear a word and still understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations seldom happen in a vacuum. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same procedure as speech audiometry, but the test occurs in a noisy room instead of a quiet one. This can help you determine how well your hearing is working in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is made to measure the performance of your inner ear. A little sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. Sound is then sent through a small device. This test assesses how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. If this test establishes that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it may suggest that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: The overall health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. This is done using a test called tympanometry. During this test, a little device will gently push air into your ear and measure exactly how much your eardrum moves. If you have fluid behind your eardrum, or a hole in your eardrum, this is the test that will reveal that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear after sending sound to it. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us identify how well it’s functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are reacting to sound. This is accomplished by placing a couple of strategically 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 properly. This is accomplished by measuring sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. This can identify whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
You most likely won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. Generally, your particular symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be appropriate.
When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? Well, sometimes the tests you take will uncover the root cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other instances, simply help us rule out other causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are experiencing.
In general, your hearing test will reveal:
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have advanced).
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
- Which treatment strategy will be best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve identified what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively provide treatment options.
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 really superficial. A test is much more in-depth and can provide usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as you can
So as soon as you detect symptoms, you should 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 a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.