Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is basically impossible. For example, you can’t actually put your ear next to a speaker and effectively evaluate what you hear. So getting a hearing test will be vital in figuring out what’s going on with your hearing.
Now, before you start sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s significant to mention that the majority of hearing tests are very easy and involve nothing more difficult than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests in general are no fun for anybody of any age. Taking some time to become familiar with these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more comfortable. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test done?
We often talk about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your hearing checked. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably discussed on occasion. You might even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s a bit misleading. Because you may undergo a few different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of them is made to assess something different or provide you with a specific result. 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 sound on a set of headphones. Hear a tone in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can determine which wavelengths and volumes of sound you can hear. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, you’re able to hear tones really well, but hearing speech remains something challenging. Speech is typically a more complex audio spectrum so it can be more difficult to hear clearly. When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, once again, be instructed 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: Naturally, real-world conversations almost never take place in a vacuum. 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 figure out how well your hearing is functioning in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is working will be established by this test. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. This test assesses how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. This test can usually identify whether there is an obstruction 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 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 reveal 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 functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react to sound is measured by an ABR test. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are tactically placed on your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is entirely painless. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on everyone from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to determine how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can determine whether your cochlea is working or, in some situations, if your ear is blocked.
What do the results of hearing tests tell us?
You probably won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. Generally, your particular symptoms will determine which of these tests will be suitable.
What are we looking for in a hearing test? A hearing test can sometimes reveal the cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other cases, simply help us eliminate other causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are experiencing.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Which treatment approach is best for your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to address your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have advanced).
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
What is the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is very superficial. A test is much more in-depth and can supply usable data.
It’s best to get tested as soon as you can
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. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
Which means hearing tests are quite easy, all you need to do is schedule them.