Hearing Tests: Types, Details, & Diagnosis

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

Hearing loss is difficult, if not impossible, to diagnose by yourself. For example, you can’t really put your ear next to a speaker and subjectively evaluate what you hear. Which means that if you want to understand what’s happening with your hearing, you have to get it tested.

Now, before you begin sweating or anxiously fidgeting, it’s significant to point out that most hearing tests are rather easy and involve nothing more taxing than wearing a pair of fancy headphones.

Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests are generally 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. A hearing test is probably the simplest test you’ll ever have to take!

What is a hearing test like?

Talking about making an appointment to have a hearing test is something that is not that uncommon. And we’ve probably used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. Perhaps, you’ve heard that there are two types of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they’re all about.

Well, that’s slightly misleading. Because you might undergo a number of different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of them is designed to assess something different or provide you with a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to experience include the following:

  • Pure-tone audiometry: Most individuals are probably familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a set of headphones. You just put up your right hand if you hear a pitch in your right ear, and if you hear a tone in your left ear you raise your left hand. With this, we can determine 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 very well, but hearing speech is still somewhat of a challenge. Speech is typically a more complex audio spectrum so it can be more difficult to hear clearly. This test also features a set of headphones in a quiet room. You will listen to speech at different volumes to determine the lowest volume you can hear words and clearly understand them.
  • Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Naturally, real-world conversations rarely occur in a vacuum. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same process as speech audiometry, but the test occurs in a noisy room instead of a quiet one. This can help you determine how well your hearing is functioning in real-world scenarios.
  • Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is working will be established by this test. A small sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is put on your forehead. A small device then receives sounds. How effectively sound vibrations travel through the ear is tracked by this test. If this test determines that sound is moving through your ear effectively it may indicate that you have an obstruction.
  • Tympanometry: Sometimes, we’ll want to check the overall health of your eardrum. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. 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 detect that.
  • Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and observes the muscle response of your inner ear. It all occurs 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 reacting to sound. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are strategically placed on 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 type 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 identify 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. We will choose one or two tests that best address your symptoms and then go from there.

When we test your hearing, what are we looking for? Well, sometimes the tests you take will reveal the underlying cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take may simply rule out other possible causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are experiencing.

Here are some things that your hearing test can uncover:

  • How much your hearing loss has advanced and how severe it is.
  • Which treatment approach 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 dealing with symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
  • Which wavelengths of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some individuals have a hard time hearing high frequencies; other people have a difficult time hearing low pitches).

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 very superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can provide usable data.

The sooner you get tested, the better

That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test when you first 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 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 quite 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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