Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. For instance, you can’t really put your ear up to a speaker and effectively calculate what you hear. That means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you have to take a test.
But there’s no need to be concerned or stress out because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech set of headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. 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 virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test done?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to have a hearing assessment is something that is not that unusual. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about from time to time. You might even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because you may undergo a few different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of these tests will provide you with a specific result and is created to measure something different. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are probably familiar with this hearing test. You put on some headphones and you listen for a sound. You just 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 determine which frequencies and volumes of sound you can hear. 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 just fine. Speech is generally a more complex audio spectrum so it can be harder to hear clearly. This test also is comprised of a set of headphones in a quiet room. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will consist 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: Naturally, real-world conversations almost never occur in a vacuum. The only real difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is carried out in a noisy setting. This can help you determine how well your hearing is functioning in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is working will be established by this test. A little sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. This test tracks 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 could be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to check the overall health of your eardrum. 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 indicate whether your eardrum has a hole, 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 feedback of your inner ear. It all occurs by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can tell us 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 reacting to sound. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is totally painless. 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 working. 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 situations, if your ear is blocked.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
Chances are, you probably won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Generally, your particular symptoms will determine which of these tests will be appropriate.
What are we looking for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will reveal the underlying cause of your hearing loss. In other situations, the test you take may just eliminate other possible causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are experiencing.
Generally, your hearing test will reveal:
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have progressed).
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some individuals have a hard time hearing high frequencies; other people have a hard time hearing low pitches).
- The best approach for treating your hearing loss: Once we’ve identified what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively provide treatment solutions.
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 rather superficial. A test is much more in-depth and can provide usable information.
It’s best to get tested as soon as possible
So as soon as you observe 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 intrusive or generally unpleasant. 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 pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.