Self-diagnosing hearing loss is pretty much impossible. For instance, you can’t actually put your ear up to a speaker and subjectively evaluate what you hear. So getting a hearing test will be crucial in understanding what’s happening with your hearing.
Now, before you begin sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s significant 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, people don’t like tests. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are just generally no fun. Taking a little 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 performed?
We often talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your hearing tested. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” once or twice. You may even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s slightly misleading. 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 designed to measure something different. The hearing tests you’re most likely to experience include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You put on some headphones and you listen for a sound. Hear a tone in your right ear? Raise your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! This will test your ability to 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, hearing speech is a challenge for you even though you can hear tones just fine. That’s because speech is typically more complex! This test also consists 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 can hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations rarely happen in a vacuum. 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 can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the function of your inner ear. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. How effectively sound vibrations travel through the ear is measured by this test. If this test establishes that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it may indicate that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: The overall health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. This is done using a test called tympanometry. 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 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. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us discover how well it’s functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to respond to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is accomplished by placing a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is totally painless. That’s why people from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This kind of testing will help identify if your inner ear and cochlea are working effectively. This is accomplished by measuring 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 do the results of hearing tests tell us?
It’s likely, you usually won’t undergo every single one of these hearing tests. We will pick one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.
What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will uncover the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other instances, simply help us eliminate other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re experiencing will ultimately be determined.
Generally, your hearing test will uncover:
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how severe it is.
- Which frequency of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some people have a difficult time hearing high wavelengths; other people have a hard time hearing low pitches).
- Which treatment strategy will be best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve established the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively offer treatment solutions.
What is the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? It’s sort of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is rather superficial. A test is much more in-depth and can provide usable data.
It’s best to get tested as soon as you can
So as soon as you observe symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Take it easy, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally unpleasant. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.
Which means hearing tests are fairly easy, all you need to do is schedule them.