Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. As an example, you can’t really assess your level of hearing by merely putting your ear near a speaker. So getting a hearing test will be vital in understanding what’s happening with your hearing.
But there’s no need to be concerned or stress because a hearing test is about as straightforward as putting on a high-tech set of headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. Taking some time to become familiar with these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more relaxed. 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 have your hearing checked. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably discussed from time to time. You may even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because as it happens, there are a few different hearing tests you might undergo. Each one is made 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: Most individuals are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a tone on a set of headphones. 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 wavelengths 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 very well, but hearing speech remains somewhat of a challenge. That’s because speech is typically more complex! This test also is comprised of a pair of headphones in a quiet room. You will listen to speech at different volumes to determine the lowest volume you can hear words and clearly comprehend them.
- 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 process as speech audiometry, but the test occurs in a noisy room rather than a quiet one. This mimics real-world situations to help determine how your hearing is working in those situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the performance of your inner ear. A little sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. This test tracks how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. This test can often 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: Sometimes, we’ll want to check the general health of your eardrum. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized for this purpose. 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 reveal 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 identify how well it’s working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are reacting to sound. This is achieved by placing a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is entirely 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 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 an obstruction, this test will detect it.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
Chances are, you usually won’t undergo every single one of these hearing tests. We will select one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.
What are we looking for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will uncover the underlying cause of your hearing loss. In other circumstances, the test you take might just rule out 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:
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how serious it is.
- Which treatment strategy is best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve determined what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully provide treatment options.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a specific frequency range.
- Whether you are dealing with hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
Is there a difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt comparison. A screening is very superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as you can
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be very stressful, and you don’t have to study. And the tests aren’t painful or intrusive. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.
It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.