Self-diagnosing hearing loss is basically impossible. As an example, you can’t really evaluate your level of hearing by merely putting your ear near a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be vital in understanding what’s going on with your hearing.
But there’s no need to worry or stress because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.
Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests are generally no fun for anybody of any age. You will be more comfortable and more prepared if you take some time to get to know these tests. 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 ears tested. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” once or twice. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they are all about.
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because you might undergo a number of different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of them is made to measure something different or provide you with a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re likely most familiar with. You put on some headphones and you listen for a sound. You just put up your right hand if you hear a tone in your right ear, and if you hear a pitch in your left ear you raise your left hand. 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: Sometimes, hearing speech is a challenge for you despite the fact that you can hear tones just fine. That’s because speech is typically more complex! When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be led into a quiet room and will, once again, be instructed to put on some headphones. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will be comprised of audible speech at different volumes to detect the lowest level you can hear a word and still understand it.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations almost never take place in a vacuum. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is performed in a noisy setting. This mimics real-world situations to help figure out how your hearing is working in those settings.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is made to measure the performance of your inner ear. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. This test assesses how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. This test can often identify whether there is an obstruction in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working fine there could be some kind of obstruction hindering the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The general health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized for this purpose. During this test, a little 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 detect 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 discover how well it’s functioning.
- 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 tactically placed electrodes on the outside of 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 determine how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can identify 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 do we look for in a hearing test? A hearing test can sometimes expose the cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other cases, simply help us rule out other 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 uncover:
- Which frequency of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some individuals have a hard time hearing high frequencies; others have a tough time hearing low sounds).
- The best approach for managing your hearing loss: Once we’ve established what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively offer treatment solutions.
- How much your hearing loss has advanced and how severe it is.
- Whether you’re dealing with symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
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 rather superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can supply usable information.
The sooner you get tested, the better
That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test when you first observe symptoms. Don’t worry, this test won’t be super stressful, and you won’t have to study. And the tests aren’t painful or intrusive. We will provide you with 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.