Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is virtually impossible. To illustrate, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by simply putting your ear near a speaker. That means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you have to take a test.
Now, before you begin sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s important to mention that the majority of hearing tests are very easy and require nothing more taxing than wearing a pair of fancy headphones.
Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests in general are no fun for anybody of any age. You will be more relaxed and more prepared if you take a little 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?
Talking about making an appointment to have a hearing test is something that isn’t that uncommon. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably discussed on occasion. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s slightly misleading. Because as it happens, there are a number of different hearing tests you might undergo. Each of them is made to assess something different or provide you with a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are probably familiar with this hearing test. You wear some headphones and you listen for a sound. Hear a tone in your right ear? Put up 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’re able to hear. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, you can hear tones really well, but hearing speech is still something challenging. That’s because speech is generally more complex! This test also consists of a set of headphones in a quiet room. Instead of making you focus on tones, this test will consist of audible speech at various volumes to detect the lowest level you’re able to hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations rarely happen in a vacuum. 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 mimics real-world situations to help determine how your hearing is working in those settings.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is made to measure the performance of your inner ear. A little sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. 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 could suggest that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. Tympanometry is a test that is used for this purpose. During this test, a small 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: A tiny device measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear after sending sound to it. It all occurs by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. This is accomplished by putting a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. This test is entirely 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 diagnostic is made to track how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. This is accomplished by tracking sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s a blockage, this test will detect it.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
Chances are, you probably won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Usually, your particular symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be suitable.
What do we look for in a hearing test? A hearing test can sometimes expose the cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take may just eliminate other possible causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.
Generally, your hearing test will reveal:
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- Which treatment strategy is best for your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to address your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have progressed).
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
Is there a difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt comparison. A screening is really superficial. A test is designed to provide usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as possible
So as soon as you detect symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test won’t be super stressful, and you don’t have to study. And the tests aren’t unpleasant or invasive. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.
Which means hearing tests are quite easy, all you need to do is schedule them.