Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is basically impossible. To illustrate, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. So getting a hearing test will be crucial in understanding what’s happening with your hearing.
Now, before you begin sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s significant to point out that most hearing tests are rather easy and require nothing more challenging than wearing a pair of fancy headphones.
Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Whether you’re a high school student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are just generally no fun. Taking some time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more relaxed. A hearing test is probably the easiest test you’ll ever take!
How is a hearing test performed?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to get a hearing test is something that is not that unusual. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about on occasion. You may even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because you may undergo a number of different kinds 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 encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You put on some headphones and you listen for a sound. Hear a tone 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 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: In some cases, you can hear tones really well, but hearing speech is still something of a challenge. That’s because speech is generally more complex! This test also features a pair of headphones in a quiet room. 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 understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in the real world occur in settings where other sounds are present. 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 determine 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 small sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. This test tracks how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. This test can usually identify whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working fine there might be some kind of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes requires testing. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. Air will be gently blown into your ear in order to measure how much movement your eardrum has. If you have fluid behind your eardrum, or a hole in your eardrum, this is the test that will reveal that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and observes the muscle feedback of your inner ear. It all happens by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can tell us a lot about how well your middle ear is functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to respond to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is accomplished by placing a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. This test is completely painless so don’t worry. That’s why people from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is designed to determine how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. 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 a blockage, this test will detect it.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
You probably won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. Generally, your specific symptoms will determine which of these tests will be relevant.
What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, in some cases the tests you take will uncover the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other cases, simply help us eliminate other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re noticing will ultimately be determined.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can reveal:
- The best approach for managing your hearing loss: Once we’ve determined what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully offer treatment options.
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some individuals have a difficult time hearing high frequencies; other people have a tough time hearing low pitches).
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- How much your hearing loss has progressed and how severe it is.
Is there a difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? The difference between a quiz and a test is a good example. A screening is really superficial. A test is made to provide usable information.
The sooner you take this test, the better
So as soon as you detect symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test won’t be very stressful, and you don’t have to study. And the tests aren’t painful or invasive. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.
Which means hearing tests are pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.