Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. For instance, you can’t really put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively evaluate what you hear. That means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you have to take a test.
Now, before you begin sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s significant to mention that most hearing tests are very easy and require nothing more challenging than wearing a pair of fancy headphones.
Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests in general are no fun for anybody of any age. Taking a little time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more relaxed. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test done?
Talking about making an appointment to have a hearing test is something that isn’t that uncommon. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about occasionally. You may even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because you might undergo a number of different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of them is designed to assess something different or provide you with a specific result. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re probably most aware of. You put on some headphones and you listen for a tone. Hear a pitch in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! This will test your ability to hear a variety of wavelengths at a variety of volumes. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, hearing speech is a problem for you despite the fact that you can hear tones just fine. That’s because speech is typically more complex! During a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, again, be instructed to don some headphones. You will listen to speech at different volumes to determine the lowest volume you can hear words and clearly comprehend 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 process as speech audiometry, but the test occurs in a noisy room instead of a quiet one. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is functioning in real-world situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the performance of your inner ear. A little sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. How efficiently sound vibrations travel through the ear is tracked by this test. This test can usually detect whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there might be some kind of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to test the overall health of your eardrum. Tympanometry is a test that is used for this purpose. Air will be gently blown into your ear so that we can measure how much movement your eardrum has. The results of this test can reveal whether your eardrum has a hole, 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 feedback of your inner ear. It all occurs by reflex, which means that the movements of your muscles can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to respond 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 completely 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. It does this by tracking the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. If your cochlea isn’t working properly or there’s an obstruction, this test will reveal it.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
You probably won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. Usually, your specific symptoms will determine which of these tests will be relevant.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? Well, in some cases the tests you take will reveal the root cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other instances, simply help us eliminate other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re noticing will ultimately be determined.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can uncover:
- Whether your hearing loss is in a specific frequency range.
- The best strategy for managing your hearing loss: Once we’ve identified the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully provide treatment solutions.
- How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have advanced).
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
What’s 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 really superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can supply usable data.
The sooner you take this test, the better
That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test as soon as you detect symptoms. Relax, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. And the tests aren’t unpleasant or intrusive. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.
Which means hearing tests are pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.