Self-diagnosing hearing loss is virtually impossible. To illustrate, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by simply putting your ear near a speaker. Which means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you need to get it tested.
But there’s no need to worry or stress because a hearing test is about as straightforward as putting on a high-tech set of headphones.
Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. You will be more comfortable and more prepared if you take a little time to get to know these tests. 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 assessment is something that is not that unusual. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably discussed on occasion. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they’re all about.
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because as it happens, there are a few different hearing tests you may undergo. Each of these tests will give you a specific result and is created 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 probably most aware of. You wear some headphones and you listen for a tone. Hear a tone in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can figure out 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 can hear tones really well, but hearing speech is still something challenging. Speech is generally a more complex audio spectrum so it can be more difficult to hear clearly. During a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, again, be directed to put on some headphones. 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: Of course, real-world conversations seldom take place in a vacuum. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same procedure as speech audiometry, but the test occurs 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 settings.
- 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 one on your cochlea. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. This test assesses how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. If this test establishes that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it could suggest that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes requires testing. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized for this purpose. During this test, a small device will gently push air into your ear and measure exactly how much your eardrum moves. The results of this test can identify whether your eardrum has a hole, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear after delivering sound to it. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us identify how well it’s functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is achieved by putting a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is completely painless. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on everyone from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This kind of testing will help identify if your inner ear and cochlea are working effectively. This is accomplished by tracking sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. This can detect whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
It’s likely, you probably won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Generally, your particular symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be appropriate.
When we test your hearing, 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 just eliminate other possible causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
In general, your hearing test will reveal:
- The best strategy for treating your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to address your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
- How much your hearing loss has progressed and how significant it is.
Is there any difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? It’s sort of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is really superficial. A test is designed to supply usable information.
It’s best to get tested as soon as you can
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 painful 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 pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.