Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. For instance, you can’t actually put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively evaluate what you hear. That means that if you want to know what’s going on with your hearing, you have to get it tested.
Now, before you start sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s important to mention that the majority of hearing tests are quite easy and require nothing more taxing than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Tests are generally no fun for anyone of any age. You will be more comfortable and more ready if you take some time to get to know these tests. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test performed?
Talking about making an appointment to get a hearing assessment is something that isn’t 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 you may undergo a number of different types of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of these tests will give you 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 put on some headphones and you listen for a tone. Hear a pitch in your right ear? Raise your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! This will test how well you hear a variety of frequencies at a variety of volumes. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, you’re able to hear tones very well, but hearing speech remains something challenging. That’s because speech is generally more complex! This test also is comprised of a set of headphones in a quiet room. Instead of making you listen to 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 comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations seldom take place in a vacuum. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is carried out in a noisy setting. This mimics real-world situations to help figure out how your hearing is working in those settings.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is functioning will be established by this test. A small sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. How efficiently sound vibrations move through the ear is tracked by this test. This test can often identify whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there may be some kind of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Sometimes, we’ll want to test the general health of your eardrum. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. During this test, a small 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 detect that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and observes the muscle response of your inner ear. It all happens by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on your skull. This test is entirely painless so don’t worry. That’s why everyone from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to measure how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. This is achieved 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 a blockage, this test will reveal it.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
You most likely won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. Generally, your particular symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be relevant.
When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes uncover the cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take might simply eliminate other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re dealing with will ultimately be determined.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- 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.
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how significant it is.
- Which frequency of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some people have a difficult time hearing high wavelengths; others have a difficult time hearing low sounds).
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 rather superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable data.
The sooner you get tested, the better
So as soon as you detect 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 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.