Self-diagnosing hearing loss is basically impossible. For instance, you can’t actually put your ear next to a speaker and effectively measure what you hear. Which means that if you want to know what’s happening with your hearing, you have to take a test.
But there’s no need to be concerned or stress out because a hearing test is about as easy as putting on a high-tech set of headphones.
Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Whether you’re a high school 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, therefore, more comfortable. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!
What is a hearing test like?
Talking about making an appointment to get a hearing test is something that is not that uncommon. 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 not exactly accurate. Because you may undergo a number of different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of these tests will give you a specific result and is designed to measure something different. Here are some of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:
- Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re probably most aware of. 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. With this, we can establish which frequencies and volumes of sound you’re able to hear. It will also measure whether you have more significant hearing loss in one ear than the other.
- Speech audiometry: Sometimes, you can hear tones really well, but hearing speech remains something challenging. Speech is generally a more complex audio spectrum so it can be harder to hear with clarity. When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, once again, be instructed to don some headphones. You will listen to speech at different volumes to determine the lowest level you can hear words and clearly comprehend them.
- Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in real-time occur in settings where there are other sounds. The only real difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is carried out in a noisy setting. This can help you determine how well your hearing is functioning in real-world situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is created to measure the function of your inner ear. A small sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. Sound is then sent through a small device. How effectively sound vibrations move through the ear is measured by this test. 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 perfectly there may be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to test the general health of your eardrum. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. Air will be gently blown into your ear in order to measure how much movement your eardrum has. The results of this test can reveal 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 the movements of your muscles 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 responding to sound. This is achieved by placing a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. This test is entirely painless so don’t worry. That’s why people from newborns to grandparents get this test.
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This type of testing will help identify if your inner ear and cochlea are working effectively. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s an obstruction, this test will reveal it.
What can we discover from hearing test results?
You probably won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. Usually, your specific symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be appropriate.
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 situations, the test you take may simply eliminate other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re dealing with will ultimately be determined.
Here are a few things that your hearing test can uncover:
- The best approach for treating your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
- Which wavelengths of sound you have the most difficult time hearing (some people have a difficult time hearing high frequencies; other people have a tough time hearing low sounds).
- How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have progressed).
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
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 rather superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable information.
The sooner you get tested, the better
That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test as soon as you notice symptoms. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be very stressful, and you don’t have to study. Nor are hearing tests invasive or generally unpleasant. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.
It’s easy, just call and schedule an appointment.