Hearing Tests: Types, Facts, & Diagnosis

Hearing test showing ear of young woman with sound waves simulation technology - isolated on white banner - black and white.

Self-diagnosing hearing loss is virtually impossible. For example, you can’t actually put your ear next to a speaker and effectively measure what you hear. That means that if you want to understand what’s going on with your hearing, you need to take a test.

Now, before you start sweating or fidgeting anxiously, it’s significant to point out that the majority of hearing tests are quite easy and require 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 anyone of any age. Taking some time to become familiar with 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 scheduling an appointment to get a hearing assessment is something that isn’t that uncommon. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. 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 one is made to assess something different or give you a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to experience include the following:

  • Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re probably most familiar with. You wear some headphones and you listen for a tone. Hear a pitch in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! With this, we can establish which wavelengths 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: In some cases, you can hear tones very well, but hearing speech remains something of a challenge. That’s because speech is generally more complex! This test also is comprised of a set 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: Naturally, real-world conversations almost never happen in a vacuum. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same procedure as speech audiometry, but the test occurs in a noisy room instead of a quiet one. This can help you figure out how well your hearing is working in real-world situations.
  • Bone conduction testing: This diagnostic is designed to measure the performance of your inner ear. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and one on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. This test tracks how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. If this test determines that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it may suggest that you have a blockage.
  • 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. If you have fluid behind your eardrum, or a hole in your eardrum, this is the test that will identify 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): An ABR test tries to measure how well the brain and inner ear are responding to sound. To accomplish this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is totally 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 made to track how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. This is accomplished by measuring sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. If your cochlea isn’t working properly or there’s a blockage, this test will detect it.

What do the results of hearing tests tell us?

You probably won’t need to get all of these hearing tests. Usually, your particular symptoms will determine which of these tests will be suitable.

What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, sometimes the tests you take will expose the underlying cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you get can, in other cases, simply help us rule out other causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re dealing with will ultimately be determined.

In general, your hearing test will reveal:

  • Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
  • Which treatment strategy will be best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve established what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively offer treatment options.
  • Whether you’re dealing with symptoms related to hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
  • How profound your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken multiple tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have advanced).

What’s the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt analogy. A screening is really superficial. A test is much more in-depth and can supply usable data.

The sooner you get tested, the better

So as soon as you notice symptoms, you need to schedule a hearing test. Take it easy, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests intrusive or generally painful. 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.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.


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