Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. To illustrate, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by merely putting your ear next to a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be crucial 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, no one likes tests. Tests are generally no fun for anyone of any age. You will be more relaxed and more ready if you take some time to get to know these tests. A hearing test is probably the simplest test you’ll ever take!
What is a hearing test like?
We often talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your hearing checked. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably discussed from time to time. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because you may undergo a few different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of them is designed to measure something different or give you a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are probably familiar with this hearing test. 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 tone in your left ear you put up your left hand. This will test how well you 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: In some cases, you can hear tones really well, but hearing speech remains somewhat of a challenge. Speech is generally a more complex audio range so it can be more difficult to hear with clarity. When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, once 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 comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations rarely take place in a vacuum. The only actual 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 working in real-world situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the function of your inner ear. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. Sound is then sent through a small device. How effectively sound vibrations travel through the ear is measured by this test. This test can often detect whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working fine there may be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes requires testing. This is done using a test called tympanometry. 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 response of your inner ear. It all occurs by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is functioning.
- 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 tactically placed on your skull. This test is totally 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 kind of testing will help determine if your inner ear and cochlea are working properly. This is accomplished by tracking 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 have to get all of these hearing tests. Usually, your specific symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be appropriate.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? Well, in some cases the tests you take will expose the root cause of your hearing loss. In other situations, 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 experiencing.
In general, your hearing test will reveal:
- The best approach for managing your hearing loss: Once we’ve determined the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively offer treatment solutions.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
- How much your hearing loss has progressed and how serious it is.
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
What is 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 really superficial. A test is designed to supply usable information.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as possible
So as soon as you detect symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be very stressful, and you won’t have to study. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally painful. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
It’s easy, just call and schedule an appointment.