Hearing loss is an experience that is all too familiar for many people across their lifespans. Unfortunately, having difficulties hearing can actually be detrimental to both one’s emotional and physical well-being. Untreated hearing loss has been shown to cause anxiety, difficulties at work, impaired social relationships, and more.
Luckily, having a hearing test at the first sign of hearing difficulties can help an audiologist best work with one’s unique needs before hearing problems advance any further.
What Are Hearing Tests?
When people are experiencing hearing loss or other hearing-related complications, it may be time for an audiology test, also known as a hearing test. Audiology is the branch of medicine that addresses a person’s sense of hearing, and hearing tests measure the amount a person is able to hear.
The administration of hearing tests is called audiometry. Some audiometry assessments may evaluate the tones and volumes that a person can hear, whereas others may pinpoint other ear-related factors and where the hearing impairments originate from (the ear or the brain).
There are many types of audiology tests, but it is unlikely that a person will need to take all of them to get to the bottom of a hearing problem.
Do You Need a Hearing Test?
Signs of a hearing problem may include:
- Finding oneself asking people to repeat themselves more than usual
- Having trouble differentiating familiar voices in a crowd
- Noticing that the volume on a TV or other device needs to be turned higher in order to hear it
- Ringing in the ears
Experiencing these signs may mean it’s time to consider having a hearing screening performed.
Getting a Hearing Test
During an audiology exam, an audiologist will take a health history and do a physical examination. This will help them determine which specific tests are needed. Sometimes, a hearing problem can be identified just by physical exam alone.
There are many types of hearing tests. These tests are all rather quick and completely pain-free.
Here are a few examples of some of the most common audiology exams:
- Pure Tone Audiometry is the most common hearing test, and it is also the most accurate and comprehensive. This test is done by using an audiometer to play sounds in different tones and volumes through earphones. Typically, an audiologist will have a person raise their hand when they hear a sound in the corresponding ear.
- Tuning Fork Tests may indicate whether hearing loss is caused by damage to the vibrating parts of the middle ear and eardrum, damage to inner ear nerves, or to both structures. This type of test uses a tuning fork, which is a two-pronged metal instrument that produces sound when struck. The two main types of tuning fork tests include the Rinne and the Weber tests.
- Auditory brainstem response (ABR) tests measure the hearing nerve’s response to sound. This type of test is used with newborns, children, and anyone who cannot complete other types of hearing tests, such as pure tone audiometry. During the exam, electrodes are enclosed in stickers and placed on the head and in front of the ears. These electrodes measure how the ear’s nerves respond to sounds coming through earphones.
Understanding Hearing Test Results
The tests described above represent just a few types of hearing tests that a person may receive when investigating hearing loss. The results of any hearing test performed will be presented after the exam on an audiogram that shows the range of a person’s hearing. An audiologist will make sure that each patient understands their own audiogram and hearing test results.
Next Steps After Testing
After having a hearing test and evaluating an audiogram, an audiologist can help tailor a treatment plan to address each patient’s specific hearing needs. This may include ear wax removal, hearing aids, or even a cochlear implant.People experiencing hearing problems should seek out an audiology test as soon as they notice any trouble with hearing. This can help address any problems before they worsen. If you live in or near Tucson, come see the team at Sonora Hearing Care. Better hearing starts here!