Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. As an example, you can’t really assess your level of hearing by merely putting your ear next to a speaker. Which means that if you want to understand what’s happening with your hearing, you need to take a test.
Now, before you begin sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s important to point out that most hearing tests are rather easy and involve nothing more difficult than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Whether you’re a high school student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are just generally no fun. Taking some time to become familiar with these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more relaxed. A hearing test is about the easiest test you’ll ever have to take!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about making an appointment to have a hearing test is something that is not that uncommon. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably discussed on occasion. You may even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Because you may undergo a number of different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of these tests will provide you with a particular result and is designed to measure something different. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are probably familiar with this hearing test. You wear some headphones and you listen for a sound. Hear a tone in your right ear? Raise your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can determine which wavelengths and volumes of sound you’re able to hear. 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 really well, but hearing speech is still something challenging. Speech is generally a more complex audio range so it can be more difficult to hear with clarity. This test also features a set of headphones in a quiet room. 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: Obviously, conversations in the real world happen in settings where there are other sounds. 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 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 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 move through the ear is measured by this test. If this test establishes that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it may suggest that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to test the overall health of your eardrum. This is done using a test called tympanometry. 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 delivers sound to your ear and measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear. It all happens by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can tell us a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- 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. This test is entirely painless so don’t worry. That’s why everyone from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is designed to determine how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. 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 situations, if your ear is blocked.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
It’s likely, you usually won’t undergo every single one of these hearing tests. Usually, your specific symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be suitable.
What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will expose the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other instances, simply help us rule out 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:
- The best approach for dealing with your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how severe it is.
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- 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).
Is there a 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 very superficial. A test is made to supply usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as you can
That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test as soon as you notice symptoms. Take it easy, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally painful. We will provide you with 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.