Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. For instance, you can’t actually put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively evaluate what you hear. Which means that if you want to understand what’s happening with your hearing, you need to take a test.
But there’s no need to be concerned or stress because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Whether you’re a high school student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. Taking some time to become familiar with these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more comfortable. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test performed?
Talking about making an appointment to have a hearing assessment is something that is not that unusual. And we’ve likely 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’re all about.
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because you might undergo a number of different types of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of these tests will provide you with a particular result and is created to measure something different. Here are a few of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re probably most aware of. You wear some headphones and you listen for a sound. You just put up your right hand if you hear a pitch in your right ear, and if you hear a pitch in your left ear you put up your left hand. This will test how well you 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 can hear tones very well, but hearing speech is still something challenging. That’s because speech is typically 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 don some headphones. Instead of making you focus on tones, this test will be comprised of audible speech at various volumes to identify the lowest level you can hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, real-world conversations rarely occur in a vacuum. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is performed in a noisy setting. This mimics real-world situations to help figure out how your hearing is working in those situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is made to measure the performance of your inner ear. A little 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. This test can usually identify whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there could be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The overall 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 exactly how much your eardrum moves. 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 delivers sound to your ear and measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear. It all occurs by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can tell us a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are reacting to sound. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are tactically placed on 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 measure how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. This is achieved by tracking sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. If your cochlea isn’t working properly or there’s an obstruction, this test will detect it.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
You most likely won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. Usually, your particular symptoms will determine which of these tests will be suitable.
What do we look for in a hearing test? A hearing test can sometimes uncover the cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other cases, simply help us rule out other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re dealing with will ultimately be determined.
In general, your hearing test will uncover:
- How much your hearing loss has progressed and how significant it is.
- 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.
- Which frequency of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some people have a difficult time hearing high wavelengths; other people have a tough time hearing low sounds).
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
What is the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt analogy. A screening is really superficial. A test is designed to supply usable data.
It’s best to get tested as soon as possible
So as soon as you observe symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be super stressful, and you won’t need to study. And the tests aren’t painful or invasive. We will give you 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.