Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is basically impossible. As an example, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by merely putting your ear near a speaker. That means that if you want to know what’s happening with your hearing, you need to take a test.
Now, before you begin sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s important to point out that most hearing tests are rather easy and involve nothing more taxing than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, no one likes tests. Tests in general are no fun for anybody of any age. You will be more comfortable and more ready if you take a little time to get to know these tests. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!
How is a hearing test done?
We often talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your hearing checked. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about on occasion. Maybe, 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 few different hearing tests you might undergo. Each one is designed to measure something different or provide you with a specific result. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are probably familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a tone on a set of headphones. Hear a tone in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the pitch in your left ear? Same thing! This will test how well you 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: In some cases, hearing speech is a challenge for you even though you can hear tones clearly. That’s because speech is typically more complex! This test also features a pair 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 can hear a word and still comprehend it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, real-world conversations rarely 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. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. How efficiently sound vibrations move through the ear is tracked by this test. If this test determines that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it could suggest that you have an obstruction.
- Tympanometry: The overall health of your eardrum sometimes requires testing. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. Air will be gently blown into your ear so that we can measure how much movement your eardrum has. 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 response of your inner ear after sending sound to it. It all happens by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are reacting to sound. To accomplish this test, a couple of electrodes are tactically placed on your skull. This test is completely painless so don’t worry. That’s why everyone from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to measure how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. This is accomplished by tracking sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. This can detect whether your cochlea is working or, in some situations, if your ear is blocked.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
You most likely won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. Generally, your particular symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be suitable.
What are we looking for in a hearing test? Well, in some cases the tests you take will reveal the underlying cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take might just rule out other possible 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 uncover:
- The best strategy for treating your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to address your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
- Whether you are dealing with hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms related to hearing loss.
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how serious it is.
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some individuals have a hard time hearing high wavelengths; others have a tough time hearing low sounds).
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 made to supply usable information.
It’s best to get tested as soon as you can
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be super stressful, and you won’t need to study. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally painful. If you’re wondering, what should I not do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
Which means hearing tests are quite easy, all you need to do is schedule them.