Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. As an example, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. That means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you need to take a test.
But there’s no need to be concerned or stress out because a hearing test is about as straightforward as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are just generally no fun. You will be more comfortable and more prepared if you take some time to get to know these tests. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to get a hearing test is something that is not that uncommon. And we’ve probably used the phrase “hearing test” once or twice. You may even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because you might undergo a few different types of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of these tests will provide you with a particular 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 wear some headphones and you listen for a tone. You simply put up 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 establish which frequencies 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 can hear tones really well, but hearing speech remains something of a challenge. That’s because speech is generally more complex! During a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, again, be instructed to put on some headphones. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will be comprised 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 happen in a vacuum. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same process as speech audiometry, but the test takes place in a noisy room instead of a quiet one. This can help you determine how well your hearing is working in real-world situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is made to measure the performance of your inner ear. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other 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 determines that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it may indicate that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: Sometimes, we’ll want to test the general health of your eardrum. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized for this purpose. Air will be gently blown into your ear so that we can 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 feedback of your inner ear after delivering sound to it. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us discover how well it’s functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to respond to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is achieved by putting a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of 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 kind of testing will help identify if your inner ear and cochlea are working properly. This is accomplished by measuring sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s an obstruction, this test will detect it.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
It’s likely, you usually won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. We will select one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes uncover the cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other instances, simply help us eliminate other causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
Generally, your hearing test will uncover:
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how significant it is.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a specific frequency range.
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- Which treatment strategy will be best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve established the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively provide treatment solutions.
What is the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? The difference between a quiz and a test is a good comparison. A screening is really superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable data.
The sooner you take this test, the better
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Relax, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests invasive 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.