Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. As an example, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be vital in understanding what’s going on with your hearing.
Now, before you begin sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s significant to point out that the majority of hearing tests are rather easy and require nothing more taxing than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are just generally no fun. You will be more comfortable and more ready 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?
We frequently talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to get your hearing tested. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about on occasion. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two types of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they’re all about.
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because it turns out there are a few different hearing tests you may undergo. Each of them is made to measure something different or provide you with a specific result. Here are a few of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You wear some headphones and you listen for a tone. Hear a pitch in your right ear? Raise your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! This will test your ability to 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: In some cases, you can hear tones very well, but hearing speech remains something challenging. Speech is typically a more complex audio range so it can be harder 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 don some headphones. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest level you can hear words and clearly understand them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, real-world conversations rarely occur 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 can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is functioning will be determined by this test. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. How effectively sound vibrations travel through the ear is tracked by this test. This test can often identify whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there might be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: On occasion, we’ll want to check the general health of your eardrum. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized for this purpose. During this test, a little device will gently push air into your ear and measure exactly how much your eardrum moves. The results of this test can reveal whether your eardrum has a hole, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle response of your inner ear after delivering sound to it. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us discover how well it’s working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are reacting to sound. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically 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 measure how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. This is accomplished by measuring sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner 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 most likely won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. We will pick one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.
When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? Well, sometimes the tests you take will reveal the root cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other cases, simply help us eliminate other causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can uncover:
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- How much your hearing loss has progressed and how serious it is.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a specific frequency range.
- The best approach for managing your hearing loss: Once we’ve identified the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively provide treatment solutions.
What’s the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? The difference between a quiz and a test is a good analogy. A screening is really superficial. A test is made to supply usable information.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as you can
So as soon as you detect symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Relax, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. And the tests aren’t unpleasant or invasive. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before you get 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.