Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is basically impossible. For example, you can’t actually put your ear up to a speaker and subjectively calculate what you hear. So getting a hearing test will be essential in understanding what’s happening with your hearing.
But there’s no need to be concerned or stress out because a hearing test is about as straightforward as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Tests are generally 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 probably the simplest test you’ll ever have to take!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about making an appointment to get a hearing assessment is something that isn’t that uncommon. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two types of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Because you may undergo a few different types of hearing tests, as it turns out. 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 encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re likely most familiar with. You wear some headphones and you listen for a tone. You just put up your right hand if you hear a tone in your right ear, and if you hear a tone in your left ear you put up your left hand. 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: 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 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 different volumes to detect the lowest level you’re able to hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, real-world conversations almost never occur in a vacuum. The only real difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is carried out 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 made to measure the performance of your inner ear. A small sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. This test measures how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. This test can usually identify whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there could be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to test the general health of your eardrum. Tympanometry is a test that is used for this purpose. Air will be gently blown into your ear so that we can measure how much movement your eardrum has. 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: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us identify 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 completely painless so don’t worry. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on people from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This type of testing will help determine 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. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s an obstruction, this test will detect it.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
You most likely won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. We will pick one or two tests that best address your symptoms and then go from there.
What are we looking for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will reveal the root cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other cases, simply help us eliminate other causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
In general, your hearing test will reveal:
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
- How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have progressed).
- Which treatment approach is best for your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to address your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
What’s the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? It’s sort of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is rather superficial. A test is designed to supply usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as you can
So as soon as you observe symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be very stressful, and you don’t need to study. And the tests aren’t unpleasant or invasive. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.
Which means hearing tests are quite easy, all you need to do is schedule them.