While hearing loss comes in many different types and forms, the basics remain the same—difficulty hearing because of age or damage. Hearing tests, on the other hand, are another story. There exist several types of hearing tests, and each one features its own pros and cons. When choosing to undergo an ear test, be sure to choose the test that examines the areas of hearing loss that most apply to you.
Preparing for Hearing Loss Test
Before scheduling a test, consult your doctor, as they may be able to determine what kind of hearing loss you are experiencing. Once you determine the likely cause of your hearing loss, you can undergo the right test for it. Before conducting a test, your doctor may choose to examine your ear to ensure your hearing problems aren’t being caused by wax buildup, infection, or fluid buildup.
Types of Hearing Tests
There are two main categories of hearing loss tests—sound tests and speech recognition tests. Sound tests examine your response to sounds, tones, and spoken words at a variety of volumes and in different environments. Speech and word recognition tests examine your ability to hear and process spoken language. A third, less common test is the tympanometry test, which examines how well your eardrum vibrates.
Pure-Tone Audiogram Test
Pure-tone audiogram tests are common sound tests used for in-school hearing tests or annual audiologist visits. During a pure-tone test, patients wear headphones that emit “beeps” at various volumes and intensities. When the patient hears one of these beeps, they alert the audiologist conducting the test. Pure-tone testing is easy and quick but offers no information on hearing loss across ears or if hearing loss occurs in only one ear.
Acoustic Reflex Measures
When you hear a loud sound, a tiny muscle in your middle ear tightens. This is known as the acoustic reflex, and while we don’t know exactly why it happens, research suggests it may play a role preventing auditory overstimulation.
During an acoustic reflex test, an audiologist places a small rubber tip or probe inside the ear, which emits a series of loud noises. A machine records how loud the sound needs to be for the patient’s acoustic reflex to trigger – if at all. A high trigger threshold suggests some level of hearing loss in the affected ear.
Tuning Fork Hearing Loss Test
A tuning fork sound test involves putting a patient in a completely silent room. An audiologist then introduces a 512 Hz tuning fork to the room. As the fork is moved to different positions around the room, the audiologist notes where the patient hears the fork best, which gives them insight into the type and extent of the patient’s hearing loss.
Tuning fork tests are usually used to determine whether a patient is suffering from sensorineural hearing loss (caused by disease or lesion) or conductive hearing loss (caused by blockage).
Speech and Recognition Testing
Speech and recognition testing can be done in many different ways, but the test always involves presenting words to a patient who then repeats them. Words can be spoken at different volumes or environments to test how well patients can hear and recognize the complex sounds critical for daily function.
Find an Experienced Audiologist
The ear is an extremely complex organ that requires a delicate touch and a wealth of expert knowledge to treat. The team at Amdahl Hearing has over 75 years of experience in the hearing industry and provides both high quality care and customer service. Get in touch with us today to talk more about how our team of audiologists can get you the hearing loss help you need.