Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. For instance, you can’t really put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively calculate what you hear. Which means that if you want to understand what’s happening with your hearing, you have to take a test.
Now, before you start sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s significant to mention that the majority of hearing tests are very easy and involve nothing more challenging than putting on 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. You will be more relaxed and more ready if you take some time to get to know these tests. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to have a hearing assessment is something that isn’t that uncommon. And we’ve probably used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. 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 it turns out there are a number of different hearing tests you may undergo. Each of these tests will give you a specific result and is created to measure something different. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a tone on a pair of headphones. You simply raise your right hand if you hear a tone in your right ear, and if you hear a tone in your left ear you put up your left hand. With this, we can establish which frequencies and volumes of sound you can hear. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, hearing speech is a challenge for you despite the fact that you can hear tones clearly. Speech is generally a more complex audio range so it can be harder 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 instructed to don some headphones. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will consist of audible speech at different volumes to detect the lowest level you can hear a word and still understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations seldom 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 can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the performance of your inner ear. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. This test assesses how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. This test can usually identify whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there may be some sort of obstruction hindering the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. Tympanometry is a test that is used for this purpose. Air will be gently blown into your ear so that we can measure how much movement your eardrum has. The results of this test can reveal 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 observes the muscle response of your inner ear. It all occurs by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- 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 putting a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. This test is completely painless so don’t worry. 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 determine 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. This can identify whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
It’s likely, you probably won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. We will pick one or two tests that best address your symptoms and then go from there.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? Well, sometimes the tests you take will reveal the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other instances, simply help us rule out other causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
Generally, your hearing test will uncover:
- The best approach for managing your hearing loss: Once we’ve established what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully provide treatment solutions.
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
- Which frequency of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some people have a hard time hearing high wavelengths; others have a hard time hearing low pitches).
- How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have progressed).
Is there any 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 very superficial. A test is designed to provide usable data.
It’s best to get tested as soon as possible
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. 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.