Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. For example, you can’t really put your ear up to a speaker and effectively calculate what you hear. Which means that if you want to know what’s going on with your hearing, you need to get it tested.
Now, before you start sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s important to point out that the majority of hearing tests are very easy and require nothing more taxing than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are just generally no fun. Taking a little time to become familiar with these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more comfortable. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
We frequently talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to get your hearing tested. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about on occasion. You might even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s a bit misleading. Because as it happens, there are a few different hearing tests you may undergo. Each of them is designed 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 aware of. You listen for a sound 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! With this, we can determine which wavelengths and volumes of sound you’re able to hear. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, hearing speech is an issue for you even though you can hear tones clearly. Speech is typically a more complex audio spectrum 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, once again, be instructed to don some headphones. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest level you can hear words and clearly comprehend them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations almost never occur in a vacuum. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same process 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 scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is created to measure the performance of your inner ear. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and one on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. How efficiently sound vibrations travel through the ear is tracked by this test. If this test establishes that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it may suggest that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: On occasion, we’ll want to test the overall health of your eardrum. This is done 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. The results of this test can reveal whether your eardrum has a hole, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle response 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): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is accomplished by placing a couple of tactically 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 made to determine how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s an obstruction, this test will detect it.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
Chances are, you probably won’t undergo every single one of these hearing tests. Usually, your particular symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be relevant.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? Well, in some cases the tests you take will reveal the underlying cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take might simply eliminate other possible causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
Here are some things that your hearing test can uncover:
- Which treatment approach is best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve determined what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully offer treatment options.
- Which frequency of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some individuals have a hard time hearing high wavelengths; other people have a hard time hearing low pitches).
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have progressed).
Is there any difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt example. A screening is rather superficial. A test is made to supply usable information.
It’s best to get tested as soon as possible
That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test when you first observe symptoms. Take it easy, you won’t need 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.