Who should have a hearing test?
You should have a baseline audiogram completed if it's been more than five years since your most recent hearing test or screening, or if you suspect a recent change in your hearing or balance. We recommend you have your hearing tested once a year or more often if you have hearing loss.
What can I expect with a hearing test?
Your doctor has suggested a hearing test, so what can you expect?
A hearing test is usually conducted because a person has complained of hearing loss. The full test is made up of several different examinations, to determine if you have hearing loss and to what extent.
The test is painless and takes approximately 15 minutes. The audiologist will start by asking you about your concerns. Have you been exposed to loud noises? Does hearing loss run in your family? How long have you noticed you're not hearing as well? These questions are to help get a better understanding of your concerns and to determine if further attention is required.
The test begins with an examination of your ears with an otoscope. This allows a view of your ear canal to determine if there is any damage to the ear canal or ear drum.
The next part of the test is the main hearing test and is performed in a soundtreated booth. You'll sit in a chair and wear a pair of headphones.
The first test is the pure tone test in which each of your ears is exposed to different sounds of varying frequencies and decibels. This test identifies the faintest sounds you can hear at different frequencies.
The next part would be the speech test, or speech reception threshold. The SRT records the faintest speech that can be heard half the time. Then the audiologist will read different words from a list to test your word recognition and the ability to correctly repeat them back at a comfortable loudness level.
The final step is the test of your middle ear.
The audiologist may also take measurements that will provide information about how the middle ear is functioning. These measurements include tympanometry, acoustic reflex measures.
Tympanometry detects fluid in the middle ear, perforation of the eardrum, or wax blocking the ear canal. A small tip pushes air pressure into the ear canal making the eardrum move back and forth. The test measures the mobility of the eardrum. Graphs are created, called tympanograms. These can reveal a stiff eardrum, a hole in the eardrum, or an eardrum that moves too much.
Acoustic reflex measures add information about the possible location of the hearing problem. Everyone has an acoustic reflex to sounds. The loudness level at which the acoustic reflex occurs - or the absence of the acoustic reflex - gives information to the audiologist about the type of hearing loss.
After the test battery is completed, the audiologist will review the results with you. Additional more specialized testing may be recommended based on initial test results.
So, when the doctor orders a "hearing test" you can be assured you're getting a thorough hearing evaluation!