Hearing Tests: Types, Facts, & Results

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

Hearing loss is challenging, if not impossible, to self-diagnose. To illustrate, you can’t really assess your level of hearing by simply putting your ear next to a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be vital in figuring out what’s going on with your hearing.

But there’s no need to worry or stress because a hearing test is about as simple as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.

Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Tests are generally no fun for anybody of any age. Taking some time to get to know these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more relaxed. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!

What is a hearing test like?

Talking about scheduling an appointment to get a hearing test is something that is not that uncommon. And the phrase “hearing test” is something we’ve probably talked about occasionally. You might even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?

Well, that’s not completely accurate. Because as it happens, there are a few different hearing tests you might undergo. Each of these tests will provide you with a specific result and is designed to measure something different. The hearing tests you’re most likely to encounter include the following:

  • Pure-tone audiometry: This is the hearing test you’re likely most familiar with. You wear some headphones and you listen for a sound. Hear a tone in your right ear? Put up your right hand. Hear the tone in your left ear? Same thing! This will test your ability to hear a variety of wavelengths at a variety of volumes. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
  • Speech audiometry: In some cases, you’re able to hear tones very well, but hearing speech remains somewhat of a challenge. That’s because speech is generally more complex! During a speech audiometry test, you’ll be led into a quiet room and will, again, be instructed to don some headphones. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest level you can hear words and clearly understand them.
  • Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Obviously, conversations in real-time happen in settings where there are other sounds. A speech and noise-in-words test will go through the same process as speech audiometry, but the test takes place in a noisy room rather than a quiet one. 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 performance of your inner ear. Two little sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. This test measures how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. If this test establishes that sound is moving through your ear effectively it may indicate that you have a blockage.
  • Tympanometry: On occasion, we’ll want to check the general health of your eardrum. This is accomplished using a test called tympanometry. Air will be gently blown into your ear so that we can 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 feedback of your inner ear after delivering sound to it. It all occurs by reflex, which means that the movements of your muscles can tell us 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. To achieve this test, a couple of electrodes are tactically placed on your skull. This test is entirely 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. This is achieved by tracking sound that echo’s back to your middle ear from your inner ear. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s an obstruction, this test will detect it.

What can we discover from hearing test results?

It’s likely, you usually won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Usually, your specific symptoms will determine which of these tests will be appropriate.

What do we look for in a hearing test? Well, in some cases the tests you take will reveal the root cause of your hearing loss. The hearing test you take can, in other instances, simply help us rule out other causes. Ultimately, we will get to the bottom of any hearing loss symptoms you are noticing.

Here are a few things that your hearing test can uncover:

  • Which frequency of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some individuals have a hard time hearing high wavelengths; other people have a hard time hearing low pitches).
  • Which treatment approach is best for your hearing loss: We will be more effectively able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve established the cause.
  • How serious your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve taken 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? The difference between a quiz and a test is an apt analogy. A screening is very superficial. A test is designed to 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. Relax, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. And the tests aren’t painful or intrusive. 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.

It’s simple, just call and schedule an appointment.

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.