Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. For example, you can’t really put your ear next to a speaker and effectively measure what you hear. So getting a hearing test will be vital in figuring out what’s going on 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 set of headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. Tests are generally no fun for anybody of any age. Taking a little time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more relaxed. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
We frequently talk about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to get your ears checked. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about occasionally. You may even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s slightly misleading. Because it turns out there are a number of different hearing tests you may undergo. Each of these tests will provide you with a particular result and is created to measure something different. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re probably most familiar with. You listen for a sound on a set of headphones. Hear a pitch in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can establish 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: In some cases, you can hear tones really well, but hearing speech is still somewhat challenging. That’s because speech is typically more complex! This test also is comprised of a set 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 detect the lowest level you can hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in the real world happen 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 instead of 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 created to measure the performance of your inner ear. A little sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. This test assesses how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. If this test establishes that sound is moving through your ear effectively it could suggest that you have a blockage.
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized 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 there’s a hole in your eardrum, 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 response of your inner ear. It all happens by reflex, which means that the movements of your muscles can tell us a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. This is accomplished by putting 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 type of testing will help identify if your inner ear and cochlea are working effectively. It does this by tracking the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can determine whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
You most likely 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 test your hearing, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes reveal the cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take may simply rule out other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re experiencing will ultimately be determined.
Generally, your hearing test will reveal:
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have progressed).
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some individuals have a hard time hearing high frequencies; others have a difficult time hearing low sounds).
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- 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.
What’s the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? The difference between a quiz and a test is a good example. A screening is very superficial. A test is made to provide 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 when you first detect symptoms. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be super stressful, and you won’t need 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.
It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.