Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is basically impossible. To illustrate, you can’t really measure your level of hearing by merely putting your ear next to a speaker. That means that if you want to know what’s going on with your hearing, you have to take a test.
But there’s no need to worry or stress out because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech pair 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. You will be more relaxed and more ready if you take some time to get to know these tests. A hearing test is about the simplest test you’ll ever have to take!
What is a hearing test like?
We frequently talk about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to get your hearing tested. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about occasionally. You might even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because it turns out there are a few different hearing tests you might undergo. Each one is made to assess something different or give you a specific result. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a set of headphones. You just raise your right hand if you hear a pitch in your right ear, and if you hear a tone in your left ear you put up your left hand. 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 generally a more complex audio spectrum so it can be harder to hear clearly. This test also is comprised of a pair of headphones in a quiet room. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest volume you can hear words and clearly understand them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in the real world happen in settings where there are other sounds. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is carried out in a noisy setting. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world situations.
- 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. How efficiently sound vibrations travel through the ear is measured by this test. This test can often detect whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working perfectly there could be some kind of obstruction hindering the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to check the overall health of your eardrum. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. 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: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and observes the muscle feedback of your inner ear. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us discover how well it’s functioning.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test attempts 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. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on people from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is designed to track how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. 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 can we learn from hearing test results?
It’s likely, you usually won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Generally, your specific symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be relevant.
When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? A hearing test can sometimes reveal the cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other cases, simply help us eliminate other 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 uncover:
- Which treatment strategy is best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve established what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully offer treatment solutions.
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some people have a hard time hearing high frequencies; others have a tough time hearing low sounds).
- 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.
Is there a 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 designed to supply usable data.
It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as possible
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Relax, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests intrusive 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 quite easy, all you need to do is schedule them.