Self-diagnosing hearing loss is basically impossible. For instance, you can’t really put your ear up to a speaker and subjectively evaluate what you hear. Which means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you have to get it tested.
Now, before you start sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s significant to mention that most hearing tests are quite easy and involve nothing more difficult than wearing a pair of fancy headphones.
But we get it, people don’t like 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. A hearing test is about the easiest test you’ll ever have to take!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about making an appointment to have a hearing assessment is something that is not that unusual. And we’ve probably used the phrase “hearing test” once or twice. You might even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?
Well, that’s somewhat misleading. Because as it happens, there are a few different hearing tests you might undergo. Each one is made to assess something different or provide you with a specific result. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to encounter:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You put on some headphones and you listen for a tone. You simply put up your right hand if you hear a tone in your right ear, and if you hear a tone in your left ear you raise your left hand. With this, we can figure out which wavelengths and volumes of sound you can hear. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, you’re able to hear tones really well, but hearing speech remains somewhat of a challenge. That’s because speech is generally more complex! 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 comprehend them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in the real world take place in settings where other sounds are present. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same procedure as speech audiometry, but the test takes place in a noisy room rather than a quiet one. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world scenarios.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is created to measure the performance of your inner ear. A small sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. This test tracks how well those sound vibrations travel through your inner ear. This test can usually detect whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working fine there might be some sort of obstruction hindering the sounds).
- Tympanometry: The overall health of your eardrum sometimes needs to be tested. Tympanometry is a test that is used for this purpose. During this test, a little device will gently push air into your ear and measure exactly how much your eardrum moves. The results of this test can reveal whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
- Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device delivers sound to your ear and measures the muscle response of your inner ear. It all occurs by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can reveal a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test attempts to measure how well the brain and inner ear are reacting to sound. This is achieved by placing a couple of tactically 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 made to determine how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. 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 efficiently or there’s a blockage, this test will detect it.
What can we learn from hearing test results?
Chances are, you usually won’t undergo every single one of these hearing tests. We will select one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.
When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? Well, in some cases the tests you take will uncover the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other cases, simply help us eliminate other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re dealing with will ultimately be determined.
Generally, your hearing test will uncover:
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have advanced).
- Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- Which treatment strategy will be best for your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
What’s the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt comparison. A screening is very superficial. A test is designed to provide usable data.
The sooner you get tested, the better
So as soon as you detect symptoms, you should schedule a hearing test. Take it easy, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. 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 pretty easy, all you need to do is schedule them.