Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. To illustrate, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by merely putting your ear near a speaker. 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 worry or stress because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Tests are generally no fun for anyone of any age. Taking some time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more relaxed. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about making an appointment to get a hearing test is something that is not that uncommon. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” once or twice. Maybe, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they’re all about.
Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because it turns out there are a few different hearing tests you may undergo. Each of them is made to measure something different or provide you with a specific result. 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 wear some headphones and you listen for a sound. You simply 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. This will test how well you hear a variety of frequencies 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 can hear tones very well, but hearing speech is still somewhat challenging. Speech is typically a more complex audio range 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. Instead of making you focus on tones, this test will consist of audible speech at different volumes to identify the lowest level you’re able to hear a word and still understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in the real world happen in settings where other sounds are present. The only real 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 working in real-world situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is created to measure the performance of your inner ear. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and one on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. This test measures how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. If this test establishes that sound is moving through your ear effectively it could indicate that you have a blockage.
- Tympanometry: On occasion, we’ll want to check the overall health of your eardrum. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized for this purpose. 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 identify that.
- 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 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 react to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is accomplished by placing a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. This test is completely painless so don’t worry. That’s why people from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This type of testing will help identify if your inner ear and cochlea are working effectively. 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 cases, if your ear is blocked.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
You probably won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. We will pick one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.
What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will expose the root cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other cases, simply help us rule out other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re dealing with will ultimately be determined.
Generally, your hearing test will reveal:
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how severe it is.
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- The best approach for dealing with your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to address your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a specific frequency range.
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 really superficial. A test is designed to supply usable information.
It’s best to get tested as soon as you can
That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test as soon as you detect symptoms. Take it easy, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests invasive or generally painful. 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.
Which means hearing tests are pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.