Hearing Tests: Types, Details, & Diagnosis

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

Diagnosing hearing loss by yourself is pretty much impossible. To illustrate, you can’t really assess your level of hearing by simply putting your ear near a speaker. So getting your hearing tested will be essential in figuring out what’s happening with your hearing.

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

Okay, tests aren’t everyone’s favorite thing to do. Whether you’re a student or middle-aged medical patient, tests are really just no fun. Taking a little time to become familiar with these tests can help you feel more prepared and, therefore, more relaxed. There’s almost no test easier to take than a hearing test!

How is a hearing test performed?

Talking about making an appointment to get a hearing test is something that isn’t that uncommon. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” once or twice. You may even be thinking, well, what are the 2 types of hearing tests?

Well, that’s somewhat misleading. Because it turns out there are a few different hearing tests you might undergo. Each of them is designed to assess something different or give you a specific result. Here are a few of the hearing tests you’re likely to experience:

  • Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are most likely 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 tone in your right ear, and if you hear a pitch in your left ear you raise your left hand. With this, we can figure out which wavelengths and volumes of sound you can hear. And if you have more profound hearing loss in one ear, this test will also determine that.
  • Speech audiometry: In some cases, you can hear tones really well, but hearing speech is still somewhat of a challenge. That’s because speech is typically more complex! When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be led into a quiet room and will, once again, be directed to don some headphones. You will listen to speech at various volumes to determine the lowest level you can hear words and clearly comprehend them.
  • Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, real-world conversations almost never happen in a vacuum. The only actual difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is performed in a noisy setting. 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 determined by this test. Two small sensors are placed, one on your forehead, and the other on your cochlea. A small device then receives sounds. This test assesses how well those sound vibrations move through your inner ear. If this test determines that sound is traveling through your ear effectively it could 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. 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 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 discover how well it’s working.
  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): The ability of your inner ear and brain to respond to sound is measured by an ABR test. This is accomplished by putting a couple of strategically placed electrodes on the outside of 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 diagnostic is designed to track how well your cochlea and inner ear are working. It does this by tracking the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. This can determine whether your cochlea is working or, in some cases, if your ear is blocked.

What do the results of hearing tests tell us?

Chances are, you usually won’t take every single one of these hearing tests. Generally, your particular symptoms will dictate which of these tests will be suitable.

When we do a hearing test, what are we looking for? Well, sometimes the tests you take will reveal the underlying cause of your hearing loss. In other circumstances, the test you take might just eliminate other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re noticing will ultimately be determined.

Generally, your hearing test will reveal:

  • How severe your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss might have progressed).
  • Which frequency of sound you have the hardest time hearing (some individuals have a difficult time hearing high wavelengths; other people have a difficult time hearing low pitches).
  • Whether you are suffering from hearing loss or experiencing the symptoms associated with hearing loss.
  • The best approach for managing your hearing loss: Once we’ve identified what’s causing your hearing loss, we’ll be able to more effectively offer treatment options.

What’s 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 designed to provide usable data.

It’s best to get a hearing test as soon as possible

That’s why it’s important to schedule a hearing test as soon as you detect symptoms. Relax, you won’t have to study, and the test isn’t stressful. Nor are hearing tests invasive or generally unpleasant. We will give you all of the information about what to do and not to do before your hearing test.

It’s easy, 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.