The Hearing Test: Learn What to Expect During a Hearing Test
If you are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss then you should take a hearing test. Hearing loss can affect people of all ages and the gradual deterioration of the hearing ability often goes unnoticed. Hearing loss can severely affect your health which is why it is important to get a hearing test done every year so you can catch the impairment early on.
Hearing tests are virtually painless and their purpose is not only to find out whether or not the patient is suffering from hearing loss but also to determine its severity. An extensive hearing test can also help identify the type of hearing loss i.e. if it is sensorineural, conductive or mixed. This helps the audiologist recommend an appropriate hearing aid and medical treatment.
Hearing Test Procedure
A hearing test is non-invasive and does not hurt at all. They are usually conducted in a quiet, sound-proof room or enclosure. No external noises such as fans, footsteps or speech enters the testing area so as not to disturb the patient. The patient is supposed to wear soft earplugs or headphones that are connected to the audiometer instrument through a wire. There may also be speakers placed strategically to test infants, toddlers and patients who need to check their new hearing aids or implants.
Once you enter the booth, the audiologist or healthcare professional will communicate with you by talking through your headphones. Audio files at different volumes and pitches will be played for you and if you can hear then then you can raise your hand or use any other signal to let the professional know.
Types of Hearing Tests
The first part of the hearing exam is the pure tone audiometry test. The patient has to be focused and carefully listen because they need to respond even if they can even slightly hear the sound. The audiometer takes measurements of the softest sounds tested at different frequencies.
Another part of the hearing test is the speech audiometry which uses live or recorded speech audio files instead of pure tones. This part of the test determines the lowest speech sound threshold that you can hear and comprehend. You will also be asked to repeat back the words you hear to make sure that you can understand what you are hearing. These speech sounds are used to determine the upper and lower limits of speech that the patient can hear comfortably.
In some cases it is also necessary to perform the tympanometry test which checks the acoustic reflexes of a person. A soft plug is placed in the ear to create the pressure changes and generate different sounds. This test determines how well the eardrum moves in response to the pressure differences and it measures the reflexive response of the muscles in the middle ear.
The different type of tests might seem extensive but each one of them is important for accurately diagnosing the hearing loss. You can discuss the tests to be conducted with the audiologist beforehand in order to mentally prepare yourself.