Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. As an example, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by merely putting your ear next to a speaker. That means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you need to get it tested.
Now, before you start sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s important to point out that most hearing tests are quite easy and involve nothing more challenging than putting on a pair of fancy 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 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?
We often talk about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to get your hearing checked. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about occasionally. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they’re all about.
Well, that’s somewhat misleading. Because as it happens, there are a few different hearing tests you may undergo. Each one is designed to measure something different or give you a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to experience include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re probably most aware of. You listen for a sound on a pair of headphones. You simply put up your right hand if you hear a tone 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. 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 despite the fact that you can hear tones clearly. That’s because speech is typically more complex! When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be led into a quiet room and will, again, be directed to put on some headphones. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will consist of audible speech at various volumes to detect the lowest level you can hear a word and still understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in real-time take place in settings where other sounds are present. The only real difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is performed in a noisy setting. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is working will be established by this test. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. How efficiently 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 indicate that you have a blockage.
- Tympanometry: Sometimes, we’ll want to test the overall health of your eardrum. This is accomplished 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. The results of this test can indicate whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- 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 working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react to sound is measured by an ABR test. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on your skull. This test is entirely painless so don’t worry. That’s why people from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to determine how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. This is achieved by measuring sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. This can determine whether your cochlea is working or, in some situations, if your ear is blocked.
What do the results of hearing tests reveal?
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 do we look for in a hearing test? Well, in some cases the tests you take will reveal the root cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take might just rule out other possible causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
In general, your hearing test will reveal:
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how severe it is.
- Which treatment strategy will be best for your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to address your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- Which frequency of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some people have a difficult time hearing high frequencies; others have a hard time hearing low sounds).
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
What’s the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is very superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable data.
It’s best to get tested as soon as you can
That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test as soon as you observe symptoms. Relax, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally unpleasant. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.