Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is basically impossible. For example, you can’t actually put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively measure what you hear. So getting your hearing tested will be vital in figuring out what’s happening with your hearing.
But there’s no need to be concerned or stress because a hearing test is about as easy as putting on a high-tech set of headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like tests. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. Taking some time to get to know 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 often talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your hearing tested. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. You may even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because you may undergo a few different kinds 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 individuals 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 pitch in your left ear? Same thing! This will test how well you hear a variety of frequencies 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 despite the fact that you can hear tones just fine. Speech is typically a more complex audio range so it can be more difficult to hear clearly. This test also features a set of headphones in a quiet room. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest level you can hear words and clearly understand them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, real-world conversations rarely take place in a vacuum. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same process as speech audiometry, but the test occurs in a noisy room rather than a quiet one. This mimics real-world situations to help figure out how your hearing is working in those situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is created to measure the function of your inner ear. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. This test measures how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. This test can often identify whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there may be some kind of obstruction hindering the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The overall health of your eardrum sometimes requires testing. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized for this purpose. 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 indicate whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and measures 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): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are reacting to sound. This is accomplished by putting a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is completely painless. That’s why people 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 properly. It does this by tracking the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. If your cochlea isn’t working properly or there’s a blockage, this test will reveal it.
What do the results of hearing tests tell us?
You most likely won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. Generally, your specific symptoms will determine which of these tests will be appropriate.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes reveal the cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take might just eliminate other possible causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are experiencing.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can reveal:
- Which treatment approach is 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.
- How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have progressed).
- Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
Is there any difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is really superficial. A test is much more in-depth and can supply 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 detect symptoms. Don’t worry, this test won’t be very stressful, and you don’t need 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 have all of that information for you.
Which means hearing tests are quite easy, all you need to do is schedule them.