Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. For example, you can’t actually put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively evaluate what you hear. That means that if you want to know what’s happening with your hearing, you need to take a test.
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, no one likes tests. Whether you’re a high school student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. Taking a little time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more relaxed. A hearing test is about the easiest test you’ll ever have to take!
How is a hearing test done?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to get a hearing test is something that isn’t that uncommon. And we’ve probably used the phrase “hearing test” once or twice. Maybe, you’ve heard that there are two types of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s a bit misleading. Because you might undergo a number of 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 some of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re probably most aware of. You wear some headphones and you listen for a tone. You just raise your right hand if you hear a pitch in your right ear, and if you hear a tone in your left ear you raise your left hand. With this, we can determine which frequencies and volumes of sound you’re able to hear. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, you’re able to hear tones very well, but hearing speech is still something of a challenge. Speech is generally a more complex audio spectrum so it can be harder to hear clearly. When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, once again, be directed to put on some headphones. 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: Of course, real-world conversations almost never happen in a vacuum. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is performed in a noisy setting. This can help you determine how well your hearing is functioning in real-world situations.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is working will be established by this test. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. Sound is then sent through a small device. How efficiently sound vibrations move through the ear is tracked by this test. If this test establishes that sound is moving through your ear effectively it may suggest that you have an obstruction.
- 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. If you have fluid behind your eardrum, or a hole in your eardrum, this is the test that will reveal that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle response of your inner ear after delivering sound to it. 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): The ability of your inner ear and brain to respond to sound is measured by an ABR test. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on your skull. This test is totally painless so don’t worry. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on everyone from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to determine how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can identify whether your cochlea is working or, in some situations, if your ear is blocked.
What do the results of hearing tests tell us?
You most likely won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. Generally, your particular symptoms will determine which of these tests will be appropriate.
What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will reveal the root cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other instances, simply help us rule out other 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:
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some people have a difficult time hearing high frequencies; others have a tough time hearing low pitches).
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how severe it is.
- The best strategy for treating your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to address your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- Whether you are dealing with hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
What is the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is really superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable information.
The sooner you take this test, the better
That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test as soon as you observe symptoms. Don’t worry, this test won’t be very stressful, and you won’t need to study. 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 provide you with all of that information.
It’s easy, just call and schedule an appointment.