Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. As an example, you can’t really assess your level of hearing by merely putting your ear near a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be vital in understanding what’s happening with your hearing.
Now, before you start sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s important to mention that the majority of hearing tests are quite easy and involve nothing more challenging than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are just generally no fun. Taking a little time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more comfortable. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to get a hearing assessment is something that is not that uncommon. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. 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 it turns out there are a number of different hearing tests you might undergo. Each of these tests will provide you with a particular result and is created to measure something different. The hearing tests you’re most likely to experience include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re likely most familiar with. You put on some headphones and you listen for a sound. Hear a pitch in your right ear? Raise your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can establish which frequencies and volumes of sound you’re able to hear. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
- Speech audiometry: In some cases, you’re able to hear tones really well, but hearing speech is still something of a challenge. Speech is typically a more complex audio spectrum so it can be more difficult to hear clearly. This test also features a pair of headphones in a quiet room. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will consist of audible speech at different volumes to identify the lowest level you can hear a word and still understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations seldom 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 figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world situations.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is working will be established by this test. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and one on your cochlea. Sound is then sent through a small device. This test measures how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. If this test determines that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it could suggest that you have a blockage.
- Tympanometry: On occasion, 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 in order to measure how much movement your eardrum has. The results of this test can identify whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle response of your inner ear after sending sound to it. It all occurs by reflex, which means that the movements of your muscles can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test attempts to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. This is achieved by placing a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is totally painless. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on people from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to measure how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. It does this by tracking the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can detect whether your cochlea is working or, in some situations, if your ear is blocked.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
It’s likely, you probably won’t take every single one 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? Well, sometimes the tests you take will reveal the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other instances, simply help us eliminate other causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are experiencing.
Here are some things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some people have a hard time hearing high wavelengths; other people have a difficult time hearing low pitches).
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
- How much your hearing loss has progressed and how serious it is.
- The best strategy for managing your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
Is there any difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is rather superficial. A test is designed to provide usable data.
The sooner you get tested, the better
That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test when you first detect symptoms. Take it easy, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. And the tests aren’t unpleasant or intrusive. We will provide you with all of the information about what to do and not to do before your hearing test.
It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.