Self-diagnosing hearing loss is virtually impossible. For instance, you can’t really put your ear up to a speaker and subjectively calculate what you hear. So getting your hearing tested will be crucial in understanding what’s going on with your hearing.
But there’s no need to worry or stress out because a hearing test is about as straightforward as putting on a high-tech set of headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. Whether you’re a high school student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are just generally no fun. Taking some time to become familiar with these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more comfortable. A hearing test is probably the easiest test you’ll ever take!
What is a hearing test like?
We often talk about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your hearing assessed. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. You might even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s somewhat misleading. Because as it happens, there are a number of different hearing tests you may 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: Most people are probably familiar with this hearing test. You put on some headphones and you listen for a sound. Hear a pitch in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the tone 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, hearing speech is an issue for you even though you can hear tones clearly. That’s because speech is generally more complex! This test also is comprised of a set of headphones in a quiet room. You will listen to speech at different volumes to determine the lowest volume you can hear words and clearly understand them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, 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 can help you determine how well your hearing is working in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is functioning will be determined by this test. A little sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. How efficiently sound vibrations move through the ear is measured by this test. If this test establishes that sound is moving through your ear effectively it could indicate that you have a blockage.
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. During this test, a little device will gently push air into your ear and measure just how much your eardrum moves. The results of this test can identify whether your eardrum has a hole, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: A tiny device measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear after delivering sound to it. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us discover how well it’s functioning.
- 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 placing a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. This test is totally 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 determine if your inner ear and cochlea are working effectively. This is accomplished by measuring sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. This can identify whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, 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. We will choose one or two tests that best address your symptoms and then go from there.
When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? Well, in some cases the tests you take will uncover the root cause of your hearing loss. In other circumstances, the test you take might simply eliminate other possible causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have advanced).
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some individuals have a hard time hearing high frequencies; others have a tough time hearing low pitches).
- The best strategy for dealing with your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
What’s 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 rather superficial. A test is much more in-depth and can provide usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as possible
That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test when you first observe symptoms. Take it easy, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests invasive or generally unpleasant. We will give you all of the information about what to do and not to do before your hearing test.
Which means hearing tests are fairly easy, all you need to do is schedule them.