Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is pretty much impossible. To illustrate, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by simply putting your ear near a speaker. Which means that if you want to understand what’s happening with your hearing, you have to get it tested.
Now, before you start sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s important to point out that the majority of hearing tests are quite easy and require nothing more challenging than wearing a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Tests in general are no fun for anybody of any age. You will be more comfortable 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 take!
How is a hearing test done?
We often talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your ears checked. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. Maybe, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they’re all about.
Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Because you may 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. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re likely most familiar with. You listen for a tone on a set of headphones. Hear a pitch in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! This will test how well you hear a variety of frequencies 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, hearing speech is a problem for you even though you can hear tones clearly. Speech is typically a more complex audio range so it can be more difficult to hear clearly. When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, again, be instructed to don some headphones. You will listen to speech at different volumes to determine the lowest volume you can hear words and clearly comprehend them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, real-world conversations seldom occur 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 rather than a quiet one. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world situations.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is functioning will be determined by this test. A little sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. This test measures how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. If this test determines that sound is moving through your ear effectively it may indicate that you have a blockage.
- Tympanometry: The overall health of your eardrum sometimes requires testing. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. During this test, a small 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 identify that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and observes the muscle response 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 responding to sound. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is completely 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 effectively. It does this by tracking the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can identify whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
You probably won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. We will select 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. The hearing test you take can, in other instances, simply help us eliminate other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re experiencing will ultimately be determined.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can uncover:
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have progressed).
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some people have a difficult time hearing high wavelengths; other people have a hard time hearing low pitches).
- The best approach for dealing with your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established 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 rather superficial. A test is designed to provide usable information.
The sooner you get tested, the better
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Take it easy, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally painful. We will give you all of the information about what to do and not to do before your hearing test.
Which means hearing tests are quite easy, all you need to do is schedule them.