Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. For example, you can’t really put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively measure what you hear. So getting your hearing tested will be vital in understanding what’s happening with your hearing.
But there’s no need to be concerned or stress because a hearing test is about as easy as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.
Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests in general are no fun for anyone of any age. Taking a little time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more comfortable. A hearing test is about the simplest test you’ll ever have to take!
How is a hearing test performed?
Talking about making an appointment to get a hearing test is something that isn’t that unusual. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about on occasion. You might even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s somewhat misleading. Because as it happens, there are a number of 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 encounter 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? Raise your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can figure out which frequencies and volumes of sound you’re able to hear. 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 problem for you despite the fact that you can hear tones clearly. Speech is generally a more complex audio spectrum so it can be more difficult to hear clearly. This test also features a set of headphones in a quiet room. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest level you can hear words and clearly comprehend them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Needless to say, conversations in the real world occur in settings where there are other sounds. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is performed in a noisy setting. This can help you determine how well your hearing is functioning in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the performance of your inner ear. A small sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. This test tracks how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. This test can often identify whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there may be some kind of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Sometimes, we’ll want to test the overall health of your eardrum. Tympanometry is a test that is used 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 feedback 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 attempts to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. This is achieved by placing a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is completely painless. That’s why everyone from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to track how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s an obstruction, this test will reveal it.
What do the results of hearing tests tell us?
You probably won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. We will choose one or two tests that best address your symptoms and then go from there.
What are we looking for in a hearing test? Well, in some cases the tests you take will expose the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other cases, simply help us eliminate other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re experiencing will ultimately be determined.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Which treatment approach will be best for your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to address your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have progressed).
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
- Whether you are dealing with hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
Is there a difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is really superficial. A test is designed to provide usable information.
The sooner you get tested, the better
That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test as soon as you notice symptoms. Don’t worry, this test won’t be super stressful, and you don’t have to study. Nor are hearing tests invasive or generally painful. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
Which means hearing tests are quite easy, all you need to do is schedule them.