Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. For example, you can’t really put your ear up to a speaker and effectively evaluate what you hear. Which means that if you want to know what’s happening with your hearing, you need to get it tested.
But there’s no need to worry or stress out because a hearing test is about as easy as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. You will be more comfortable and more prepared 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 done?
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. Maybe, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are 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 one is designed to measure something different or provide you with a specific result. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are probably familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a set of headphones. Hear a pitch in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can establish which wavelengths and volumes of sound you can 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 despite the fact that you can hear tones clearly. Speech is generally a more complex audio range so it can be more difficult to hear with clarity. When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be led into a quiet room and will, once again, be directed to put on some headphones. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest level you can hear words and clearly understand them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Needless to say, conversations in real-time happen in settings where other sounds are present. 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 small sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. This test assesses how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. This test can often detect whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working fine there might be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. This is accomplished 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. The results of this test can indicate whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and measures the muscle response of your inner ear. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us identify how well it’s working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react to sound is measured by an ABR test. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are tactically placed on your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is entirely painless. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on everyone from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This type of testing will help determine if your inner ear and cochlea are working properly. This is achieved 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 do the results of hearing tests tell us?
Chances are, you probably won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Usually, your particular symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be relevant.
What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will uncover the underlying cause of your hearing loss. In other situations, the test you take may simply eliminate other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re noticing will ultimately be determined.
Generally, your hearing test will reveal:
- Which treatment approach will be best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve identified the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively offer treatment options.
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- How profound your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have progressed).
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
What is the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt example. A screening is rather superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can supply usable information.
It’s best to get tested as soon as you can
So as soon as you observe symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Relax, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally unpleasant. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
Which means hearing tests are pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.