Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. To illustrate, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. Which means that if you want to understand what’s happening with your hearing, you have 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.
Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests are generally no fun for anyone of any age. You will be more comfortable 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?
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 discussed on occasion. You may even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s somewhat misleading. Because it turns out there are a few different hearing tests you may undergo. Each of these tests will provide you with 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: This is the hearing test you’re likely most aware of. You wear some headphones and you listen for a tone. You just raise 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 frequencies at a variety of volumes. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, hearing speech is a problem for you even though you can hear tones clearly. Speech is generally a more complex audio range so it can be more difficult to hear clearly. 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 level you can hear words and clearly comprehend them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Needless to say, conversations in the real world happen 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 rather than a quiet one. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is functioning in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the function of your inner ear. A small sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. This test measures how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. This test can often identify 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 kind of obstruction hindering the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes requires testing. This is done using a test called tympanometry. Air will be gently blown into your ear in order to measure how much movement your eardrum has. 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 response of your inner ear after delivering sound to it. It all happens by reflex, which means that the movements of your muscles can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. To accomplish this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically 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 diagnostic is designed to track how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. This is achieved by measuring sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. If your cochlea isn’t working properly 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. Usually, your particular symptoms will determine which of these tests will be relevant.
What do we look for in a hearing test? A hearing test can sometimes reveal the cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other instances, simply help us eliminate other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re experiencing will ultimately be determined.
In general, your hearing test will reveal:
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how serious it is.
- Which frequency of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some people have a hard time hearing high frequencies; other people have a difficult time hearing low pitches).
- Whether you are dealing with hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
- Which treatment strategy will be best for your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to address your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
What’s the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? It’s sort of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is very superficial. A test is designed to supply usable information.
The sooner you take this test, the better
So as soon as you detect symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Take it easy, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests invasive or generally unpleasant. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.
It’s easy, just call and schedule an appointment.