Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is pretty much impossible. For instance, you can’t really put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively evaluate what you hear. Which means that if you want to know what’s happening with your hearing, you have to take a test.
Now, before you begin sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s significant to point out that most hearing tests are very easy and involve nothing more difficult than putting on a pair of fancy headphones.
Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests are generally no fun for anybody of any age. Taking some time to become familiar with 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 frequently talk about scheduling an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your hearing tested. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about from time to time. Maybe, you’ve heard that there are two types of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they’re all about.
Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because you may undergo a number of different types of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each one is designed to assess something different or provide you with a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:
- Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a set of headphones. Hear a tone in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can figure out which frequencies 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 can hear tones really well, but hearing speech is still something of a challenge. That’s because speech is generally more complex! When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be led into a quiet room and will, again, be directed to put on some headphones. 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: Of course, real-world conversations seldom occur in a vacuum. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is carried out in a noisy setting. This mimics real-world situations to help figure out how your hearing is working in those situations.
- Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is made to measure the function of your inner ear. A small sensor is placed near your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. How effectively sound vibrations travel through the ear is measured by this test. If this test establishes that sound is moving through your ear effectively it may suggest that you have a blockage.
- Tympanometry: Occasionally, we’ll want to test the general health of your eardrum. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized for this purpose. During this test, a small device will gently push air into your ear and measure just 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: A tiny device measures the muscle response of your inner ear after delivering 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): The ability of your inner ear and brain to respond to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is achieved by putting a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. This test is completely painless so don’t worry. It’s one of the reasons why ABR testing is used on everyone from grandparents to newborns!
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This kind of testing will help determine if your inner ear and cochlea are working properly. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can detect whether your cochlea is working or, in some situations, if your ear is blocked.
What do the results of hearing tests tell us?
Chances are, you probably 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 test your hearing, what are we looking for? Well, sometimes the tests you take will expose the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other instances, simply help us rule out other causes. Essentially, 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:
- Whether your hearing loss is in a specific frequency range.
- Which treatment strategy is best for your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.
- Whether you’re experiencing symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
- How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have progressed).
Is there a difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt example. A screening is rather superficial. A test is much more in-depth and can supply usable data.
The sooner you take this test, the better
So as soon as you notice symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be super stressful, and you won’t have to study. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally painful. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will provide you with all of that information.
Which means hearing tests are fairly easy, all you need to do is schedule them.