Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. To illustrate, you can’t really assess your level of hearing by merely putting your ear next to a speaker. That means that if you want to know what’s happening with your hearing, you need to take a test.
Now, before you start sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s important to mention that most hearing tests are quite easy and require nothing more difficult than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, no one likes 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. There’s virtually 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 on occasion. You may even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s a bit misleading. Because it turns out there are a few different hearing tests you may undergo. Each of them is made to assess something different or provide you with a specific result. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You put on some headphones and you listen for a sound. You just 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. With this, we can establish which wavelengths and volumes of sound you can 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 very well, but hearing speech is still somewhat challenging. That’s because speech is generally more complex! This test also features a pair 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: Needless to say, conversations in real-time occur in settings where there are other sounds. 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 determine how your hearing is working in those settings.
- 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 one on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. This test measures how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. This test can often identify whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there might be some kind of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The overall health of your eardrum sometimes requires testing. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. Air will be gently blown into your ear in order to measure how much movement your eardrum has. The results of this test can indicate whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and measures the muscle response of your inner ear. It all occurs by reflex, which means that the movements of your muscles 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. To accomplish this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is totally painless. 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 effectively. This is achieved by measuring sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. This can determine whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
Chances are, you usually won’t undergo every single one of these hearing tests. Usually, your particular symptoms will determine which of these tests will be relevant.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? Well, sometimes the tests you take will uncover the underlying cause of your hearing loss. In other circumstances, the test you take might just rule out other possible causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can uncover:
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some people have a hard time hearing high frequencies; other people have a tough time hearing low sounds).
- How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have progressed).
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
- The best strategy for managing your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to address your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
Is there any difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is very superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can supply usable information.
It’s best to get tested as soon as possible
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Relax, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. And the tests aren’t painful or invasive. We will provide you with all of the information about what to do and not to do before your hearing test.
It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.