Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. To illustrate, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by merely putting your ear near a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be vital in understanding what’s happening with your hearing.
Now, before you start sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s significant to mention that most hearing tests are rather easy and require nothing more difficult than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests in general are no fun for anybody of any age. Taking some time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more relaxed. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
We often 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 occasionally. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because it turns out there are a few different hearing tests you might undergo. Each of them is designed to measure something different or give you a specific result. 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 wear some headphones and you listen for a tone. Hear a tone in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can determine which wavelengths and volumes of sound you can hear. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, hearing speech is an issue for you even though you can hear tones clearly. That’s because speech is typically more complex! This test also is comprised of a pair of headphones in a quiet room. You will listen to speech at different volumes to determine the lowest level you can hear words and clearly comprehend them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in real-time take place in settings where other sounds are present. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same procedure as speech audiometry, but the test takes place in a noisy room rather than a quiet one. This mimics real-world situations to help figure out how your hearing is working in those situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the function of your inner ear. A little sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is put 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 detect whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there might be some kind of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Sometimes, we’ll want to check the general 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: A tiny device measures the muscle response of your inner ear after sending sound to it. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us determine 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. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are tactically placed on your skull. This test is completely painless so don’t worry. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on everyone from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This type of testing will help determine if your inner ear and cochlea are working effectively. This is achieved 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 do the results of hearing tests reveal?
You probably won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. We will pick one or two tests that best address your symptoms and then go from there.
When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? Well, in some cases the tests you take will uncover 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 dealing with will ultimately be determined.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can reveal:
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how severe it is.
- Which treatment strategy is best for your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to address your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
What is the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? It’s kind 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 information.
It’s best to get tested as soon as you can
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test won’t be very stressful, and you won’t have to study. And the tests aren’t painful or invasive. 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 fairly easy, all you need to do is schedule them.