Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. As an example, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be crucial in figuring out what’s happening with your hearing.
But there’s no need to be concerned or stress because a hearing test is about as straightforward as putting on a high-tech set of headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Tests in general are no fun for anyone of any age. Taking some time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more relaxed. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test performed?
We often talk about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to get your ears assessed. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about on occasion. You may even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s a bit misleading. Because as it happens, there are a few different hearing tests you might undergo. Each of these tests will give you a particular result and is created to measure something different. Here are a few of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a pair of headphones. Hear a tone in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! This will test your ability to hear a variety of wavelengths 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, you can hear tones very well, but hearing speech remains something of a challenge. Speech is generally a more complex audio range so it can be more difficult to hear with clarity. During a speech audiometry test, you’ll be led into a quiet room and will, once again, be directed to put on some headphones. Instead of making you focus on 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 almost never take place 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 determine how your hearing is working in those situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is made to measure the function of your inner ear. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and one on your cochlea. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. This test assesses how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. This test can often detect whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working fine there might be some sort of obstruction hindering the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes requires testing. Tympanometry is a test that is used for this purpose. During this test, a little device will gently push air into your ear and measure exactly how much your eardrum moves. If you have fluid behind your eardrum, or a hole in your eardrum, this is the test that will detect that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device delivers sound to your ear and observes the muscle response of your inner ear. It all occurs by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can tell us a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react to sound is measured by an ABR test. To accomplish this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on your skull. This test is entirely painless so don’t worry. 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 properly. It does this by tracking the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can identify whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
Chances are, you probably won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Generally, your specific symptoms will determine which of these tests will be appropriate.
What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, in some cases the tests you take will uncover the root cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other cases, simply help us eliminate other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re experiencing will ultimately be determined.
In general, your hearing test will uncover:
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some individuals have a hard time hearing high wavelengths; others have a difficult time hearing low sounds).
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- The best strategy for dealing with your hearing loss: Once we’ve determined the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully offer treatment solutions.
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how significant it is.
Is there any difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? It’s sort of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is rather superficial. A test is designed to provide 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 observe symptoms. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be very stressful, and you won’t have to study. Nor are hearing tests invasive or generally painful. We will give you all of the information about what to do and not to do before your hearing test.
It’s easy, just call and schedule an appointment.