Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. For example, you can’t actually put your ear up to a speaker and subjectively evaluate what you hear. Which means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you need to get it tested.
Now, before you begin sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s important to point out that most hearing tests are rather easy and require nothing more difficult than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are just generally no fun. You will be more comfortable and more prepared if you take a little time to get to know these tests. A hearing test is about the easiest test you’ll ever have to take!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to have a hearing assessment is something that isn’t that uncommon. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about from time to time. You may even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because you might undergo a few different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of them is made to measure something different or give you a specific result. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re likely most aware of. You listen for a sound on a pair of headphones. You just put up your right hand if you hear a pitch in your right ear, and if you hear a pitch in your left ear you raise your left hand. With this, we can establish which frequencies and volumes of sound you can hear. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: In some cases, you’re able to hear tones really well, but hearing speech remains somewhat challenging. That’s because speech is typically more complex! This test also is comprised of a pair of headphones in a quiet room. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will be comprised of audible speech at various volumes to identify the lowest level you can hear a word and still understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations seldom occur in a vacuum. 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 can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world situations.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is working will be determined by this test. A little sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. How effectively sound vibrations move through the ear is measured by this test. This test can usually identify whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working fine there might be some kind of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to test the general health of your eardrum. This is done using a test called tympanometry. During this test, a small device will gently push air into your ear and measure just how much your eardrum moves. If you have fluid behind your eardrum, or a hole in your eardrum, this is the test that will detect that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle feedback 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): An ABR test attempts to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. To accomplish this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on 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 made to measure how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. 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 properly or there’s an obstruction, this test will detect it.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
You probably won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. Usually, your particular symptoms will determine which of these tests will be suitable.
When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes expose the cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other cases, simply help us eliminate other causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are experiencing.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Whether you are dealing with hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
- How profound your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have advanced).
- The best approach for dealing with your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
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 rather superficial. A test is much more in-depth and can supply usable information.
The sooner you get tested, the better
That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test when you first notice symptoms. Take it easy, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. And the tests aren’t painful 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.
It’s easy, just call and schedule an appointment.