Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. As an example, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by merely putting your ear near a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be essential in understanding what’s happening with your hearing.
Now, before you start sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s important to point out that most hearing tests are quite easy and require nothing more difficult than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. Whether you’re a 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, as a result, more comfortable. A hearing test is probably the easiest test you’ll ever take!
What is a hearing test like?
We frequently talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your ears tested. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about occasionally. You might even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Because as it happens, there are a number of different hearing tests you may undergo. Each of them is designed to measure something different or provide you with a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to experience include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are probably familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a set of headphones. 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 raise your left hand. This will test how well you hear a variety of wavelengths at a variety of volumes. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, you can hear tones very well, but hearing speech is still somewhat of a challenge. That’s because speech is typically more complex! This test also is comprised of a set of headphones in a quiet room. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest volume you can hear words and clearly understand them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations almost never take place in a vacuum. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same procedure as speech audiometry, but the test takes place in a noisy room instead of a quiet one. This mimics real-world situations to help figure out how your hearing is working in those situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is made to measure the performance of your inner ear. A small sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. How effectively sound vibrations move through the ear is tracked by this test. This test can usually identify whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working fine there could be some kind of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The overall health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. Tympanometry is a test that is used 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 detect that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device delivers sound to your ear and observes the muscle feedback of your inner ear. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us discover how well it’s 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 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 people from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This type of testing will help determine if your inner ear and cochlea are working properly. This is achieved by tracking 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 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 relevant.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes reveal the cause of your hearing loss. In other circumstances, the test you take might just eliminate other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re noticing will ultimately be determined.
Generally, your hearing test will uncover:
- How profound your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have advanced).
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- The best approach for treating your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
What’s 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 much more in-depth and can provide usable information.
The sooner you take this test, the better
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Relax, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. And the tests aren’t painful or intrusive. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.