Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. For instance, you can’t really put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively evaluate what you hear. That means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you need to get it tested.
Now, before you start sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s significant to point out that the majority of hearing tests are rather easy and require nothing more taxing than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. Tests in general are no fun for anybody of any age. You will be more comfortable and more prepared if you take a little time to get to know these tests. A hearing test is probably the simplest test you’ll ever have to take!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to have a hearing test is something that is not that uncommon. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably discussed from time to time. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two types of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s somewhat misleading. Because you might 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. Here are a few of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re likely most familiar with. You listen for a sound on a pair of headphones. Hear a tone in your right ear? Raise your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can determine which frequencies 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: In some cases, you can hear tones really well, but hearing speech is still somewhat challenging. That’s because speech is typically more complex! This test also consists of a pair of headphones in a quiet room. Instead of making you focus on tones, this test will consist of audible speech at different volumes to detect the lowest level you’re able to hear a word and still understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Needless to say, 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 takes place in a noisy room instead of a quiet one. 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 little sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. Sound is then sent through a small device. How efficiently sound vibrations travel through the ear is tracked by this test. This test can usually identify whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there might be some sort of obstruction hindering the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes requires testing. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized 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 identify whether your eardrum has a hole, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear after sending sound to it. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us discover 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 achieved by placing a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is totally painless. That’s why everyone from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to track how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. It does this by tracking the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. If your cochlea isn’t working properly or there’s a blockage, this test will detect it.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
It’s likely, you usually won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Generally, your particular symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be appropriate.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes reveal the 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.
In general, your hearing test will uncover:
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some individuals have a difficult time hearing high frequencies; others have a hard time hearing low sounds).
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how serious it is.
- Which treatment approach is best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve established the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully provide treatment solutions.
What is the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt analogy. A screening is really superficial. A test is made to provide usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as you can
That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test as soon as you observe symptoms. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be super stressful, and you won’t need to study. 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 fairly easy, all you need to do is schedule them.