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 next to a speaker. That means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you need to take a test.
Now, before you begin sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s significant to point out that most hearing tests are very easy and require nothing more taxing than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. Whether you’re a high school student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. You will be more relaxed and more prepared if you take a little time to get to know these tests. There’s virtually 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 tested. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about occasionally. You might even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because you may undergo a few different types of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of these tests will provide you with a specific 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 tone on a pair of headphones. You simply put up your right hand if you hear a tone in your right ear, and if you hear a pitch in your left ear you raise your left hand. This will test how well you 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’re able to hear tones really well, but hearing speech remains somewhat challenging. Speech is typically a more complex audio spectrum so it can be harder to hear with clarity. When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, again, be instructed to put on some headphones. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will be comprised of audible speech at various volumes to identify the lowest level you can hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in real-time happen in settings where there are other sounds. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same process as speech audiometry, but the test occurs in a noisy room instead of a quiet one. This mimics real-world situations to help determine how your hearing is working in those settings.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is created to measure the performance of your inner ear. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. How effectively sound vibrations move through the ear is measured by this test. 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: Sometimes, we’ll want to check the overall health of your eardrum. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. During this test, a small device will gently push air into your ear and measure just how much your eardrum moves. 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 supplies sound to your ear and observes the muscle response of your inner ear. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us determine how well it’s functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test attempts to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. This is accomplished by putting a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. This test is totally 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 functioning. 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 efficiently or there’s an obstruction, this test will reveal it.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
Chances are, you probably won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. We will pick one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.
What are we looking for in a hearing test? Well, in some cases the tests you take will expose the underlying cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take may just rule out other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re experiencing will ultimately be determined.
Here are some things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Which treatment strategy is best for your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some people have a hard time hearing high frequencies; others have a tough time hearing low sounds).
- How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have advanced).
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
Is there any difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt comparison. A screening is rather superficial. A test is designed to supply usable data.
The sooner you get tested, the better
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test won’t be super stressful, and you don’t need to study. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally unpleasant. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.
It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.