Hearing Tests: Types, Facts, & Diagnosis

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

Self-diagnosing hearing loss is virtually impossible. For instance, you can’t really put your ear next to a speaker and effectively evaluate what you hear. So getting your hearing tested will be vital in understanding what’s going on with your hearing.

But there’s no need to worry or stress because a hearing test is about as easy as putting on a high-tech pair of headphones.

But we get it, no one likes tests. Tests in general are no fun for anyone of any age. You will be more relaxed and more ready if you take a little time to get to know these tests. There’s virtually no test easier to take than a hearing test!

How is a hearing test performed?

We frequently talk about making an appointment with a hearing specialist to have your ears tested. And we’ve likely used the phrase “hearing test” a couple of times. You might even be thinking, well, what are the two types of hearing tests?

Well, that’s not quite accurate. Because you may undergo a few different types of hearing tests, as it turns out. Each one is designed to measure something different or provide you with a specific result. The hearing tests you’re most likely to experience include the following:

  • Pure-tone audiometry: Most people are most likely familiar with this hearing test. You wear some headphones and you listen for a sound. You simply put up your right hand if you hear a pitch in your right ear, and if you hear a tone in your left ear you raise your left hand. With this, we can figure out which frequencies 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, hearing speech is an issue for you even though you can hear tones clearly. That’s because speech is typically more complex! When you’re having a speech audiometry test, you’ll be brought into a quiet room and will, once again, be directed to put on some headphones. Instead of making you listen to tones, this test will be comprised of audible speech at various volumes to detect the lowest level you can hear a word and still understand it.
  • Speech and Noise-in-Words Tests: Of course, real-world conversations rarely occur in a vacuum. The only real difference between this test and the Speech audiometry test is that it is carried out in a noisy setting. This mimics real-world situations to help determine how your hearing is working in those settings.
  • Bone conduction testing: How well your inner ear is functioning will be determined by this test. A small sensor is placed next to your cochlea and another is placed on your forehead. Sound is then transmitted through a small device. How efficiently sound vibrations travel through the ear is measured by this test. This test can often identify whether there is a blockage in your ear (ex: if you can’t hear, but your inner ear is working fine there could be some sort of obstruction blocking the sounds).
  • Tympanometry: Sometimes, we’ll want to check the overall health of your eardrum. Tympanometry is a test that is utilized for this purpose. Air will be gently blown into your ear so that we can measure how much movement your eardrum has. The results of this test can indicate whether there’s a hole in your eardrum, fluid behind your eardrum membrane, and more.
  • Acoustic Reflex Measures: During this test, a tiny device supplies sound to your ear and measures the muscle feedback of your inner ear. It all occurs by reflex, which means that your muscle movements can tell us a lot about how well your middle ear is working.
  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR): An ABR test attempts to measure how well the brain and inner ear are reacting to sound. This is achieved by putting a couple of tactically placed electrodes on the outside of your skull. Don’t worry, though! This test is completely painless. That’s why everyone from newborns to grandparents get this test.
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) Testing: This diagnostic is made to track how well your cochlea and inner ear are functioning. It does this by measuring the sound waves that echo back from your inner ear into your middle ear. If your cochlea isn’t working efficiently or there’s a blockage, this test will reveal it.

What can we discover from hearing test results?

It’s likely, you usually won’t undergo every single one of these hearing tests. We will pick one or two tests that best suit your symptoms and then go from there.

What are we looking for in a hearing test? A hearing test can sometimes uncover the cause of your hearing loss. In other cases, the test you take may just rule out other possible causes. Whatever hearing loss symptoms you’re dealing with will ultimately be determined.

In general, your hearing test will uncover:

  • Whether your hearing loss is in a specific frequency range.
  • Whether you’re dealing with symptoms associated with hearing loss or hearing loss itself.
  • How profound your hearing loss is (or, if you’ve had numerous tests over the years, how your hearing loss may have progressed).
  • Which treatment strategy is best for your hearing loss: We will be more successfully able to treat your hearing loss once we’ve determined the cause.

Is there a difference between a hearing screening and a hearing test? It’s kind of like the difference between a quiz and a test. A screening is very superficial. A test is a lot more in-depth and can supply usable data.

It’s best to get tested as soon as you can

That’s why it’s essential to schedule a hearing test when you first observe symptoms. Relax, you won’t need to study, and the test isn’t stressful. And the tests aren’t painful or intrusive. If you’re wondering, what you shouldn’t do before a hearing test, don’t worry, we will have all of that information for you.

Which means hearing tests are quite easy, all you need to do is schedule them.

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.