Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. For instance, you can’t actually put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively measure what you hear. So getting a hearing test will be vital in figuring out what’s happening with your hearing.
Now, before you begin sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s significant to mention that the majority of hearing tests are very easy and require nothing more difficult than wearing a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like 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 probably the easiest test you’ll ever have to take!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to have a hearing test is something that isn’t that unusual. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. You may even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because you may undergo a few different types of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of them is designed to measure something different or provide you with a specific result. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are probably familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a set of headphones. You simply put up your right hand if you hear a pitch in your right ear, and if you hear a tone in your left ear you raise your left hand. 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: Sometimes, hearing speech is an issue for you even though you can hear tones just fine. Speech is generally a more complex audio spectrum so it can be harder to hear clearly. This test also features a set of headphones in a quiet room. Instead of making you focus on tones, this test will be comprised of audible speech at different volumes to detect the lowest level you can hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations rarely occur in a vacuum. The only real difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is performed in a noisy setting. This mimics real-world situations to help figure out how your hearing is working in those settings.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is created to measure the performance of your inner ear. A little sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. This test tracks how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. If this test establishes that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it may suggest that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. 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 reveal that.
- 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): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is accomplished by putting a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is totally painless. That’s why people from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. It does this by tracking 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 detect it.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
You probably won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. We will select one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.
What are we looking for in a hearing test? A hearing test can sometimes uncover the cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take might simply eliminate other possible causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are experiencing.
In general, your hearing test will uncover:
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some people have a difficult time hearing high frequencies; other people have a tough time hearing low sounds).
- The best approach for managing your hearing loss: Once we’ve identified what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully offer treatment options.
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how serious it is.
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
Is there any difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt analogy. A screening is really superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can supply usable information.
The sooner you take this test, the better
That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test as soon as you notice symptoms. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be very stressful, and you don’t have to study. And the tests aren’t painful or invasive. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
Which means hearing tests are pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.