Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is basically impossible. To illustrate, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by merely putting your ear near a speaker. That means that if you want to know what’s going on with your hearing, you need to get it tested.
But there’s no need to worry or stress out because a hearing test is about as easy as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.
Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. Taking a little time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, as a result, more relaxed. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about scheduling an appointment to have a hearing test is something that is not that uncommon. 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 a bit misleading. Because you may undergo a number of different types of hearing tests, as it turns out. 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 people are probably familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a set of headphones. 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. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, hearing speech is a challenge for you despite the fact that you can hear tones clearly. Speech is generally a more complex audio range so it can be harder to hear with clarity. This test also is comprised of a pair of headphones in a quiet room. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will be comprised 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 almost never happen 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 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. A little sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. How effectively sound vibrations move through the ear is measured by this test. This test can often detect whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working fine there might be some kind of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to test the overall health of your eardrum. 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. 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 response of your inner ear after sending sound to it. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us determine how well it’s working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is achieved by putting a couple of strategically 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 everyone from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure 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 reveal it.
What do the results of hearing tests tell us?
It’s likely, you probably won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Generally, your specific symptoms will determine which of these tests will be relevant.
What are we looking for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will uncover the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other instances, simply help us rule out other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re experiencing will ultimately be determined.
Generally, your hearing test will uncover:
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how significant it is.
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- Which treatment approach will be best for your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to address your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
- Whether your hearing loss is in a specific frequency range.
What is 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 very superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can supply usable information.
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. Don’t worry, this test won’t be super stressful, and you won’t need to study. Nor are hearing tests invasive or generally painful. 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.