Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is pretty much impossible. To illustrate, you can’t really assess your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. That means that if you want to know what’s happening with your hearing, you have to get it tested.
Now, before you start sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s important to mention that most hearing tests are quite easy and require nothing more challenging than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests in general are no fun for anyone of any age. Taking a little time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more relaxed. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test done?
We frequently talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to get your hearing checked. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about occasionally. Maybe, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Because you might undergo a number of different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each one is designed to assess something different or give you a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re probably most aware of. You wear some headphones and you listen for a tone. Hear a pitch in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can determine which wavelengths and volumes of sound you’re able to hear. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
- Speech audiometry: In some cases, you’re able to hear tones very well, but hearing speech remains somewhat of a challenge. Speech is typically a more complex audio spectrum so it can be more difficult to hear clearly. During a speech audiometry test, you’ll be led into a quiet room and will, again, be instructed to don some headphones. Instead of making you focus on tones, this test will be comprised of audible speech at various volumes to detect the lowest level you’re able to hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations rarely occur 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 mimics real-world situations to help figure out how your hearing is working in those settings.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is made to measure the performance of your inner ear. A little sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. How efficiently sound vibrations move through the ear is tracked by this test. If this test establishes that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it may indicate that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: On occasion, 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 just how much your eardrum moves. The results of this test can identify whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle response of your inner ear after sending sound to it. It all occurs by reflex, which means that the movements of your muscles can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is achieved by putting a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is entirely painless. That’s why everyone from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This kind of testing will help determine if your inner ear and cochlea are working effectively. This is achieved by measuring sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. This can detect whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.
What do the results of hearing tests tell us?
You probably won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. Generally, your specific symptoms will determine which of these tests will be appropriate.
What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, in some cases the tests you take will expose the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other cases, 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 reveal:
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some people have a difficult time hearing high wavelengths; others have a hard time hearing low sounds).
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- Which treatment approach is best for your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to address your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- How profound your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have advanced).
What is 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 made to provide usable information.
The sooner you get tested, the better
That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test when you first notice symptoms. Don’t worry, this test won’t be super stressful, and you don’t need to study. Nor are hearing tests invasive or generally painful. We will give you all of the information about what to do and not to do before your hearing test.
It’s easy, just call and schedule an appointment.