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 instance, you can’t actually put your ear up to a speaker and effectively calculate what you hear. So getting a hearing test will be crucial in understanding what’s happening with your hearing.

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

Alright, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests in general are no fun for anyone of any age. Taking a little time to get to know 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 making an appointment with a hearing specialist to get your ears tested. And we’ve probably used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. Maybe, you’ve heard that there are two kinds of hearing tests and you’re wondering what they’re all about.

Well, that’s not exactly accurate. Because you may undergo a few different kinds of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each of these tests will provide you with a particular result and is designed to measure something different. Here are a few of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:

  • Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are probably familiar with this hearing test. You listen for a sound on a set of headphones. You simply put up your right hand if you hear a pitch in your right ear, and if you hear a pitch in your left ear you raise your left hand. This will test how well you hear a variety of frequencies at a variety of volumes. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
  • Speech audiometry: Sometimes, hearing speech is a problem for you despite the fact that you can hear tones clearly. 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 comprehend them.
  • Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, real-world conversations seldom take place in a vacuum. 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 determine how well your hearing is functioning in real-world situations.
  • Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is functioning will be established by this test. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and one on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. How efficiently sound vibrations move through the ear is measured by this test. This test can often detect whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you’re unable to hear, but your inner ear is working fine there may be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
  • Tympanometry: The general 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 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 identify that.
  • Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device delivers sound to your ear and measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear. The reflexive reaction of the muscle movement of your inner ear will help us identify how well it’s functioning.
  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to react 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. Don’t worry, though! This test is entirely painless. That’s why everyone 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. 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 an obstruction, this test will reveal it.

What do the results of hearing tests tell us?

You probably won’t have to get all of these hearing tests. Usually, your particular symptoms will determine 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 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 experiencing will ultimately be determined.

Generally, your hearing test will reveal:

  • Whether you are dealing with hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
  • Which treatment approach is best for your hearing loss: Once we’ve determined the cause of your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more successfully provide treatment options.
  • Whether your hearing loss is in a particular frequency range.
  • How profound your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have advanced).

What is the difference between a hearing test and a hearing screening? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is really superficial. A test is much more in-depth and can provide usable data.

The sooner you get tested, the better

That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test when you first observe symptoms. Don’t worry, this test isn’t going to be very stressful, and you don’t need to study. And the tests aren’t unpleasant or invasive. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before you get a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.

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.