Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. To illustrate, you can’t really assess your level of hearing by merely putting your ear near a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be essential in figuring out what’s going on with your hearing.
But there’s no need to worry or stress out because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech set of headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Tests are generally no fun for anyone of any age. You will be more relaxed and more ready if you take some time to get to know these tests. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to have a hearing test is something that is not that unusual. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably discussed from time to time. Maybe, you’ve heard that there are two types of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s not quite 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 designed to measure something different. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re likely most familiar with. You listen for a tone on a pair of headphones. You simply put up your right hand if you hear a tone in your right ear, and if you hear a pitch 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 really well, but hearing speech is still somewhat of a challenge. That’s because speech is generally more complex! When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be led into a quiet room and will, once again, be instructed to don some headphones. You will listen to speech at different volumes to determine the lowest volume you can hear words and clearly understand them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Needless to say, conversations in the real world occur in settings where there are other sounds. 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 mimics real-world situations to help determine how your hearing is working in those settings.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is working will be determined by this test. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and one on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. How efficiently sound vibrations travel through the ear is measured by this test. If this test establishes that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it could indicate that you have a blockage.
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. This is done using a test called tympanometry. During this test, a little device will gently push air into your ear and measure just how much your eardrum moves. 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 feedback 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 working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test attempts to measure how well the brain and inner ear are reacting to sound. This is achieved by putting a couple of tactically 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 diagnostic is designed to track how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. This is achieved by tracking sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. This can identify whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
You probably won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. We will choose one or two tests that best address 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 take 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.
In general, your hearing test will reveal:
- Whether your hearing loss is in a specific frequency range.
- The best strategy for treating your hearing loss: Once we’ve determined the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively provide treatment options.
- How profound your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have advanced).
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
What’s the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt analogy. A screening is rather superficial. A test is made to supply usable data.
The sooner you get tested, the better
That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test as soon as you detect symptoms. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be very stressful, and you won’t need to study. And the tests aren’t unpleasant or intrusive. 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 fairly easy, all you need to do is schedule them.