Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. For instance, you can’t actually put your ear up to a speaker and subjectively calculate what you hear. So getting a hearing test will be vital in understanding what’s going on with your hearing.
But there’s no need to worry or stress because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.
Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests in general are no fun for anybody of any age. Taking some time to become familiar with these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more comfortable. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
We frequently talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your ears tested. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about on occasion. Maybe, 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 it turns out there are a number of different hearing tests you may undergo. Each one is designed to assess something different or give you a specific result. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You wear 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 figure out which frequencies and volumes of sound you can hear. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, hearing speech is a problem for you even though you can hear tones just fine. That’s because speech is typically more complex! This test also consists of a pair of headphones in a quiet room. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest volume you can hear words and clearly understand them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in the real world occur in settings where other sounds are present. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same procedure as speech audiometry, but the test occurs in a noisy room instead of a quiet one. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is functioning in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is functioning will be determined by this test. A small sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. This test tracks how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. If this test determines that sound is moving through your ear effectively it may suggest that you have a blockage.
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to check the general health of your eardrum. This is done using a test called tympanometry. 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 reveal that.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and observes the muscle feedback of your inner ear. 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): The ability of your inner ear and brain to respond to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is achieved by putting a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is completely 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 designed to determine how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can determine whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
You most likely won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. We will select one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.
When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes reveal the cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other instances, simply help us rule out other causes. Essentially, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
Generally, your hearing test will uncover:
- Which treatment strategy is best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve determined the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully provide treatment options.
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
- How much your hearing loss has progressed and how significant it is.
What is 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 really superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as you can
So as soon as you detect symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test won’t be very stressful, and you won’t have to study. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally unpleasant. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
It’s easy, just call and schedule an appointment.